CHIP program returns to schools

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ELCAN-KING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL second grader Josey McConnell is interviewed by Sgt. Michael Cox of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office.|Justin Schuver

Once again this year, local Masons are doing their part to make sure that Decatur County’s children stay safe.

The Local Orion Lodge No. 8 in Bainbridge is again sponsoring the Georgia Child Identification Program (CHIP). CHIP is a comprehensive child identification service, where a student’s important information is documented. This information includes photographs, a video interview, fingerprints, and even the taking of a DNA sample with a cotton swab.

This information is then placed on a compact disc and given to the student, to give to his or her parents. In the case of an awful emergency, such as an abduction or a child going missing, the parent can then provide that information to a law enforcement officer. In addition, police officers can share the information from the CDs with national search services like the “Amber Alert” system.

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Joe Frank Battles, the local lodge’s CHIP chairman, said that the data is removed from the CHIP volunteers’ computers after the CDs are completed and distributed to parents. In this way, the only people who will have the information are the parents.

On Tuesday, Masonic lodge members, volunteers and staff with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office visited Elcan-King Elementary School, to document the school’s second graders. Parents were notified ahead of time and asked for permission to allow their children to participate in the program.

The CHIP program will also be offered to second-grade students at John Johnson Elementary School on Sept. 4, Potter Street Elementary School on Oct. 2, West Bainbridge Elementary School on Nov. 6, and Jones-Wheat Elementary School on Dec. 4.

In addition, CHIP volunteers and the DCSO will be on site during the Decatur County fair, which is scheduled for Oct. 30 through Nov. 3. Although the school visits will be for second graders only, the fair event is open to children of all ages.

CHIP is funded by the Georgia Masonic Charities Foundation, Inc. For more information on the CHIP program, visit online at