Washoe County Sheriff, Mike Haley once said, "Children are our community's most precious resource, but our children often lack the skills to protect themselves." That is exactly why a 77-year-old, retired FAA employee spends more than 100 hours every year working to keep kids safe. Rod Stahl had created identification kits for thousands of children in our area.
While recording a child's height and weight may not seem like a big deal, what Rod does with that information is. "Okay, now for a picture," he instructs to a little two-year-old. "Cheese!" she says with a grin.
Rod and a team of area volunteers have fingerprinted and snapped head shots of thousands of little people in our community – all on their own time and dime. Rod says it is important for them to help protect our young people, by supplying their parents with critical, updated information about their children. In 2000, he helped launch the Nevada Masonic Child ID Program, which is supported by the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. Rod is the Program Director and is proud to say his efforts have impacted thousands of children. "Right now, we're at 32,000 kids that we've done."
A couple dozen times every year, he and his team head out into the community to offer parents a free opportunity to update their kids' records; so that important information is handy in a worst case scenario. "It's got the demographics, a colored-picture and thumbprints. We also give them a Ziplock bag with a little DNA in it, which is hair or fingernails." All that information can be given to law enforcement in an emergency.
With an estimated 2,100 kids going missing every day in the United States, Washoe County Lieutenant Tom Green says having updated stats about your child is crucial to help law enforcement in their search. "Time is critical and this data really helps move the investigation along quickly."
While Rod hopes no family ever loses a child and needs to use the records he's created, it's rewarding to know his efforts can help. "I'm on my 15th year now, but if it helps one child it's all worth it."
Here is a list of the upcoming free Child ID events:
Saturday, March 1, 2014, 11:00 to 3:00 p.m. -- Cabela's at 8650 Boomtown Road, Reno
Saturday, March 15, 2014, 11:00 to 3:00 p.m. -- Cabela's at 8650 Boomtown Road, Reno
Friday, March 21, 2014, 6:00 p.m. -- Kerak Shrine Circus. Reno Livestock Events Center on Wells Avenue
Saturday, March 22, 2014, 10:00, 2:00 & 6:00 p.m. -- Kerak Shrine Circus. Reno Livestock Events Center on Wells Avenue
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 12:00 & 4:00 p.m. -- Kerak Shrine Circus. Reno Livestock Events Center on Wells Avenue
Written by Kristen Remington