JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry, Fire Chief Keith Powers and Sheriff Mike Williams announced Wednesday a new program called Missing Endangered Persons Search and Rescue (MEPSAR) to rapidly deploy personnel and equipment from both departments to search for missing person(s).
Unique to Jacksonville, this model codifies a plan to use both agencies’ resources to maximize the chance of safe recovery of any missing person, whether child or adult.
The method: Flood the area where the person was last seen with police and fire personnel, along with a drone, helicopter, mounted patrol and any other resource appropriate.
“In the last of these 15 MEPSAR callouts we’ve had, 13 of those have been successful outcomes,” explained Powers. “As a parent, it’s a big relief when that child or missing person gets brought home.”
Powers said the effort includes be on the lookouts (BOLOs), additional personnel on the streets and a virtual missing persons search program.
“We put certain information into this program and it basically tells us where to start looking for these missing people,” Powers said.
The special mapping technology the city purchased in recent years, grid searches and other shared resources have been used in the safe recovery of several children in recent years, including a 6-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister lost for two days in woods near their Whitehouse home in December 2019.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry called the system “integral” in the search for the missing boy and girl. He said he’s confident MEPSAR will be a model for agencies across the country.