The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) summoned Special Agent Lanny Cox, a Crime Scene Specialist, to process the findings within the area now surrounded by yellow crime scene tape while a green helicopter hovered directly above. But before the Specialist dared examine any of the items, he needed to wait for the arrival of the K-9 officer so that his dog could first sniff the backpack, shoe and vicinity to acquire an original scent that could possibly belong to their abduction victim Breana.
Once satisfied that the dog had performed her duty, the Special Agent pulled-up the yellow tape and entered the prohibited area. The latex gloves he wore on both of his hands and the camera he carried in one of his hands inadvertently lent a CSI-ish look and feel to a normally still environment that undoubtedly catered to wildlife.
Everything found that could possibly be a clue and evidence was photographed and then placed in a regular-looking brown paper bag. A black sharpie pen was used to write the contents, date, time and location of the findings on the outside of the bag. This area had now been sufficiently processed.
And then another call came in, this one evoking a different emotion. All of the preparation and team effort had paid-off handsomely. The dog's trained olfactory nerves enabled the determined agents to track the victim through the woods after she had gotten away from her kidnappers. Soon after, the pilots in the hovering helicopter spotted her, leading to her rescue. To add to the celebration was word that the perpetrators of the crime had been located and arrested.
A great ending to what had begun as a distressing scenario. Fortunately, the morning's flurry of activity had all been a simulated, mock exercise to determine if these law enforcement and agency participants were ready for such a crisis should it happen in their state. If they passed, they would receive the highly-coveted C.A.R.T. (Child Abduction Response Team) certification.
At the conclusion of the exercise, a debriefing was held where a representative from each agency reported on its role, actions taken, and outcome obtained. One very important result was the proven ability for all of the agencies to work well together, seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine. Each knew its individual expertise and applied it with an innate and focused professionalism. Yet, they all kept the human element intact.
Furthermore, the experience for the observers was informative and educational. They were treated with a genuine hospitality from the top of the agencies down. A representative from Team Adam (named after Adam Walsh, abducted son of John Walsh), Ann Dugger, Director of Justice Coalition in Jacksonville, Florida, Detective Sergeant Nancy McNally from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office in Florida, and members from other C.A.R.T. teams, to name a few, were all present to watch the simulation from beginning to end. Many if not all wanted to learn something to bring back to their own community.
Just because this was only an exercise, however, didn't mean that it wasn't taken seriously. Just the contrary. These exercise participants knew they must pass this test. It wasn't about the certification; it was about being prepared should a child be abducted, something they took very seriously indeed.