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Berrien County pushing Community Child Watch Program

BERRIEN COUNTY, Ind.-- Often when a child is abducted, it is too late to save them and that is why the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Department is taking a proactive approach to protecting the community’s kids.


They held a meeting at Mars Elementary School to encourage neighbors to take part in the Michigan Community Child Watch Program.


Social studies teacher Julie Harner still remembers that scary day in seventh grade when a neighbor saved her from being kidnapped.


“As a child in seventh grade someone tried to abduct me,” said Harner.


Deputy Chief of Police Rick Smiedendorf asked for her help growing the Michigan Community Watch Program.


“We don’t want to wait until we have something like these other cities have attempted abduction or something like that before we try and do something about it,” said Smiedendorf.


She enlisted her best and brightest students.


“We were assigned to help officer Rick so that he could help have growth in his child watch program,” said ninth grader Isabella Vaz.


To join the Community Watch Program, you must have a background check and you must attend one of the half hour training sessions.


Although the attendance for the first meeting was low, they're happy to have the new participants.


“I’m not sure how many people know about it. I read about it from the police Facebook page post,” Barbara Delong.

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