Portales police prepare to take prints

By Marc Schoder: PNT Correspondent

The Portales Police Department, in cooperation with James Elementary School, is starting a a new fingerprinting program for children in the second grade.
“We decided to do the children of that age group because of our Adopt-A-Cop program,” said Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry.
The plans are to fingerprint 250 children in the early spring with officers from the Portales Police Department donating their time to get all of the children finger printed.
“The fingerprinting kits are being paid for by Roosevelt County Crime Stoppers,” said Berry. The kits, according to Berry, include places to hold a hair sample as well as toe nail clippings.
“We also will be suggesting to the parents that they should put a current photo with this kit in the event their child go missing or possibly abducted,” said Berry.
After the kit is completed, it is given to the child’s parents.
The police department and James Elementary are in the process of putting a permission slip together for the parents to sign.
“The slip will give us the parental consent to fingerprint their children as well as make the parents aware of the fact that they will be responsible for keeping the prints in a safe location,” said Berry.
Parents that Berry and James Elementary School principal Michael Terry have spoken with support this program.
“The parents that I have spoke with see this program as a positive program to protect their children,” said Terry.
The fingerprinting program gives parents a small, but meaningful asset in an emergency.
“The biggest way that the kits will be helpful is when a child is missing or a runaway or comes up missing and (killed) similar to 19-year-old Amber Robinson this past summer,” said Berry.
Robinson was reported missing April 26, 2004. Her body was found on May 9, and identified three days later with help from a similar fingerprinting kit.
Police in that case, according to Berry, used the fingerprint card that Robinson’s mother, Joann Martinez, had brought forward to police in order to assist them in finding her daughter.
“The finger print card that we got from her mother was either done in fourth or fifth grade,” said Berry, who noted that a DNA test could have delayed identification for a month or longer.