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County sheriff's office takes reins of regional abduction responders

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department is now the lead agency in a regional child abduction response team made up of police, mental health specialists and prosecutors from five Southern Oregon counties.

The Southern Oregon Regional Child Abduction Response Team was recertified by the National AMBER Alert Program this month, with Jackson County police taking the reins. The team, started in Klamath County in 2010, is one of 20 nationally recognized teams and the only team in Oregon, officials said.

Jackson County sheriff's Capt. Monte Holloway said the department is now prepared to lead a rapid, multi-agency response when a child is abducted or missing.

Officers have trained and updated policies, and the department has implemented a regional AMBER Alert call center.

The team would provide people to help state and federal officials get up to speed when an AMBER Alert is issued.

"We hope that we never have to activate a CART team in our area, (but) we want to be prepared," Holloway said. "The bottom line is, minutes matter. The clock is ticking."

Jackson and Klamath counties have worked together on the regional team since 2010, but last year the Klamath County Sheriff's Department asked Jackson County take the lead role due to economic woes.

"We just needed to make this happen. We hope it never happens, but we prepare for worst-case scenarios," Holloway said.

The CART training will continue next fall with a mock AMBER Alert exercise planned for the regional team.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.