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SAPD tests new alert system to help officers track down missing children

SAPD says that at least two children a day get lost at Fiesta Carnival downtown. But thanks to a new system, they were all safely returned to their families within minutes.

Police are making sure they can track down missing children at Fiesta as soon as possible.

The San Antonio Police Department is testing a new tactic at Fiesta that, they say, proved to be successful during the Final Four.

SAPD Sergeant Jeff Rhinehart says that this year, officers are equipped with an iPhone to receive lost child alerts and help spread the message quickly.

"We can take a picture of a child and text it out to all the officers on the scene,” Rhinehart said.

Since Fiesta Carnival opened on Thursday, Rhinehart says that about two children have gone missing a day. Luckily, he says, they have been reunited with their parents within minutes.

Moms we spoke with say that they are on high alert at Fiesta, where their children can be easily distracted.

“Very scary, ‘cause in one minute, they can be gone," Laquita Jenkins said.

"The first thing that comes to my mind is someone will come up and see that I’m distracted and try and take my child away from me," Yolanda Willis said.

For many, reporting a lost child is common sense. But officers are reminding people that every passing minute a child is missing is critical. They say it's important to immediately contact a police officer to put security on high alert at the gate.

Sgt. Rhinehart also advises parents to take a picture of their children before arriving at Fiesta, to provide the most up-to-date description on their attire. He also recommends parents dress children in bright colors and never let them out of their sight.