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5.9 Recovery Center Security

Overall security of the Recovery Center is important for the safety of the volunteers and for the family. All persons entering the Recovery Center and all property donated and used at the Recovery Center must be accounted for.

Background Checks

Background checks should be run if possible on every volunteer who registers or works at the Recovery Center. You should seek the advice and cooperation of the responsible local law enforcement agency in conducting background checks. The level of the check will depend on the volunteer's position within the search organization. The check should include prior convictions, warrants and allegations of illegal or questionable activity.

The levels of background checks are:

The initial background checks should be made before the end of the first day of the search. The checks should be monitored by:

Persons who refuse to give personal information at the initial sign-in should be automatically omitted from operations at the Recovery Center.

A list of persons who do not pass a background check, (previous offenses, arrests or suspicion of illegal activity) should be maintained (with a high level of security) by:

The daily sign-in information should be cross-checked against the "bad/background" list. If conflicting information is given by a volunteer, (different names or addresses) it should be noted and reported to local law enforcement.

The background checks will taper off with the repeated return of some volunteers. The background checks will continue until the search has been completed or terminated. Upon completion, all the background lists should be secured and archived by the Historian.

Security Camera

A security camera system is helpful to monitor people coming and going throughout the center. A system with multiple camera capability is preferred. Videotapes of all Recovery Center visitors should be made and stored with the Historian. If possible, all volunteers should be filmed as they register. Other cameras may be placed where volunteers congregate. The camera system should continuously monitor the public entrances to the Recovery Center. A date and time stamp should be recorded on the tapes and the dates and times covered should be written on the tape cartridge. The video camera monitor should be set up in a restricted area. Do not reuse the tapes.

If a security camera system is not available, consider taking still photographs or home video, especially of the registration and briefing areas. Document any unusual activities or volunteers.

Recovery Center Sign In - Name Tags

Just because you give a volunteer a nametag one day, does not mean he or she will get one permanently. This may upset some people, they just want to help. Remind them that this is a large team effort, and "What I need from you today is ..... ".


A discrete but firm "bouncer" is a very necessary person to have. You have no way of knowing who will walk into the Recovery Center. The overwhelming majority are good hearted people, willing to help in any way, but there will also be a few strange folks, perhaps even the abductor. Most will be well meaning, but will want to tell all that will listen about their macabre problem, their theories about the missing child, or some totally unrelated sad tale. Someone to nicely assist these people to leave, get counseling, or see the police will make the Recovery Center a more comfortable and safer place.

If the Recovery Center is established on private property it is easier to control access.

Search Party Photographs

A group photograph (Section on Briefing the Search Team) of each assembled search team should be taken before the team leaves the Recovery Center. The abductor may want to involve himself with the search for any number of reasons. By taking group photos, no searcher is missed. The photograph will be given to the search team leader and returned to the debriefing team for filing by the Historian.

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