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Yonkers Mayor Spano Explains How DNA Can Be Used To Find Missing Children

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano announcing the creation of a Yonkers Missing Child DNA Program.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano announcing the creation of a Yonkers Missing Child DNA Program. Photo Credit: Andrea Graziano

YONKERS, N.Y. - It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. As the father of three children, I know it’s mine. Even the thought of your child going missing or being abducted is too much for most parents to bear.

Sadly, in New York State, several thousand families cope with the life-changing stress of reporting a child missing. Last year, more than 21,600 children were reported missing in New York; 2,359 from Westchester County alone – the largest number outside of New York City. In New York, families and law enforcement officials have a lot of tools at their disposal to ensure missing children – and all missing persons – are returned home safely. AMBER Alerts, Missing Child Alerts, Missing College Student Alerts, and Missing Vulnerable Adult Alerts solicit the public’s support in finding missing persons. And the state’s Missing Persons Clearing House assists law enforcement agencies in their investigations. As an Assemblymember, I supported the enhancement and expansion of many of these types of programs. Now, as Mayor of the City of Yonkers, I want to give our law enforcement agencies another tool to safely return missing persons – DNA.

Today I instructed the Yonkers Police Department to establish the Yonkers Missing Child DNA Program – one of the first of its kind in New York. Starting this Saturday at an event at Stew Leonard’s which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., YPD will offer free Child Safety DNA Identification Kits to Yonkers families. The kit includes space for your child's photo, fingerprints, hair sample, dental records, and two swabs to preserve your child's DNA. I’m also calling upon New York State to create a state-wide DNA databank for all missing persons. We have a DNA databank for criminals, now it’s time to create one for missing persons. And while Yonkers is taking the lead, every parent in every community in the state should have the opportunity to further protect their children. That’s why it’s so important for New York State to act. Parents who take part in Yonkers’ voluntary Missing Child DNA Program will store their child’s DNA samples at home in the freezer and, if they choose, can provide the information to police if their child ever goes missing. We hope to never have to use this information, but as a father of three, I want to ensure that Yonkers parents have every tool at their disposal to help bring home their children safely.

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