With everyone on heightened security due to the recent incidents of luring, what the public does not get the chance to see is that police are constantly training for worst case scenarios, especially ones involving child abductions.
"We may not advertise our training drills," New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro said. "But we are always exercising them."
With the recent spate in luring incidents not only in New Milford, but around Bergen County, police are utilizing the specialized training that they continually undergo in trying to apprehend the people responsible for posing a threat to the children of Bergen County.
Understanding the increased levels of concern luring cases provoke within the community, Papapietro, a founding member of Bergen County's Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), said law enforcement is "fully trained and fully prepared to deal with any potential situation of this magnitude."
RDF, an elite team of highly trained members of law enforcement who respond as a unit to specific missions throughout the county, is deployed to assist a local police chief with a particular need that exceeds his department's resources--whether it's a child abduction or terroristic threat.
The RDF was founded during the 1994 Soccer World Cup at Giants Stadium. According to Papapietro, the original focus of the RDF was crowd and riot control, but they are constantly adapting their training and education to deal with current threats. The RDF was deployed to assist in securing the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 11 and are fully prepared to deal with any potential child abduction.
Specifically, the RDF has performed numerous drills on child abduction. In November 2011, the RDF held an inter-jurisdictional child abduction drill that was a coordinated training exercise between the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and the RDF. It consisted of a team of approximately 100 highly trained men and women selected from local law enforcement agencies and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
Cpt. Joe Hornyak of the Prosecutor's Office Child Abduction Response Team (CART) based the scenario of the drill on real events. The drill was overseen by Papapietro and Steven Cucciniello, Chief of Detectives for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
Papapietro said, "We've all worked together for so many years that these drills are fluid and go very smoothly whether it's a drill or real events."
Should there be an actual child abduction in Bergen County, the RDF would be called up and deployed to the scene immediately. In addition to mobilizing the mass of men and women comprising the search and rescue foot patrol in the event of an actual abduction, K-9's are often called into service during an abduction scenario.
N.J. State Police has a helicopter that would hover over the scene searching for evidence of the missing child from above the tree line.
Regarding the recent luring attempts, Cucciniello said that although the FBI is not actively working on these cases, information is being shared with them so that they are up to speed should they be called in to assist.
Papapietro said parents should talk to their children about 'stranger danger' and stay on top of what their kids are doing on the computer.
"The biggest predatory element we have in our society today are computers and social networks," Papapietro said.
"As children, we were all told not to go into a stranger's house," Papapietro said. "Now, computers bring strangers from around the world right into our children's bedrooms."