FORT WORTH, TX—The loss of Amber Hagerman more than a decade ago still haunts Tarrant County Sheriff, Dee Anderson.
Anderson, who was the Arlington Police Chief led the search to find Hagerman after she was abducted from her bicycle in broad daylight. The search ended in tragedy, when Amber's body was found 4 days later."It is something you don't get over. We lost her after we tried so hard to save her".
It was the same repeat tragedy for Anderson a few years later when Opal Jennings (6) was kidnapped from her yard in Saginaw by a sex offender. Anderson says the small police department was overwhelmed. "As the leads came in they were just writing them down on legal paper. The table was stacked up and I was asking who is managing all of this", says Anderson.
Experts say child abduction cases can be among the most difficult to investigate. In part that is why Northeast Tarrant County police departments formed the Child Abduction Response Team or CART. CART just became the first team in Texas to be certified as highly-trained experts in child kidnappings. There are only six units like CART in the nation.
Bedford Police Lieutenant, Kirk Roberts is the operational commander for CART. Roberts says the task force is unique. He adds that a quick response from CART could mean a child's life. "If an abductor is going to kill a child it will most likely happen in the first three hours. We have to get as many people working quickly to prevent that from happening".
CART officials say if there is an abduction the task force will provide manpower and expertise which Anderson says could make all the difference. "We have learned through experience and history that rapid response is critical", says Sheriff Anderson.
Experts say from every child abduction there are lessons to be learned, among those better ways to prevent kidnappings. The national Amber Alert is named after Hagerman and has grown to international status. Officials hope that CART also will catch on and help to be a positive legacy in the wake of terrible tragedies.