GACHIP helps with youth safety at schools

Published 5:03 pm Friday, March 9, 2018

Thursday morning, Orion Lodge #8 hosted the GACHIP program at Elcan-King Elementary School for second and third graders to help with the safety and welfare of children.

The GACHIP program, or Georgia Child Identification Program collects information on students in order to help parents in the event their child went missing. A child is reported missing every 43 seconds and parents often don’t have the information necessary to give a sheriff.

Parents are encouraged to sign a permission slip and have their child participate in the program at no charge. The program takes a photo of the child, conducts a video interview, takes their fingerprints, height and weight and does a DNA swab.

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The children usually come into the program knowing why they are there, but sometimes officers and volunteers do have to explain that they are doing this in case they ever go missing. They tell the kids they can get their information out quickly to the news and other officers to help find them.

When they conduct the video interview they ask the children questions such as, what is your name? What is your best friend’s name? Where is your favorite place to play? Where do you go when you are sad?

These questions help officers have some leads if the case were to ever take place.

“God forbid it happens, we can get out the information a lot faster,” Sergeant Michael Cox said.

While the thought of having a child stolen seems terrifying, parents are encouraged to think ahead. Approximately half of the students are participating, while the other students remain in the classroom. Decatur County Sheriff’s Office is unsure why some parents don’t want their child to participate, but they assure parents and guardians that no information on their child is kept. Everything is put on a c.d. and sent home with the child. All information is erased as soon as the next child sits down for their video interview.

Orion Lodge #8 volunteer, Michael Rentz, said they will be hosting their event next Thursday at West Bainbridge Elementary, beginning at 9:30. The following Thursday they will host at Potter Street Elementary and the last Thursday of the month they will have one at Jones Wheat Elementary. They are hoping to plan a larger event for parents who want their child’s information, but the child isn’t old enough to have it done at school yet. They are unsure of the exact date they will hold this event, but plan to keep the community updated.

For more information on this program and what it entails, parents can visit