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Officer creates 'scent kit' to aid in search for missing children

By Debbie Dujanovic  |  Posted Nov 8th, 2013 @ 7:19pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A police officer has invented a kit to speed up the process of finding missing children and elderly people.

Police lieutenant and doctor, Coby Webb, has searched for a large number of missing children and the elderly in the years she's been on the force. After spending a lot of time thinking about a better, faster way to help Bloodhounds track people, Webb decided to invent it.

Her new scent kit is called "Find ‘em" and Webb said it can speed up the search process for dogs by isolating a person's scent.

"It gets very frustrating for a parent, 'I'm a parent, and I want you to hurry up and find my child,' "Webb said. " ' Why are you asking me all these questions? Find my child.' "

When a child goes missing, Webb said panic often sets in and finding an article of clothing or bedding that only the child has touched becomes nearly impossible. According to Webb, using an item that a number of family members have touched can confuse a dog .

"We wanted to get something out there that is uncontaminated so a dog has the best possible start because we want to be successful in finding people quickly," she said.

The kit contains a plastic box, gloves, gauze, and instructions on how to collect a scent. After the gauze is rubbed over someone's skin, it goes back in the box and into the freezer where it can be stored for up to one year.

Webb was able to demonstrate how the kit works using a Bloodhound named "Tank," and a 9-year-old boy on the grounds of the Utah State Capitol. Tank remained in the police truck along the road while the little boy walked across the grounds and tucked himself into an alcove near the steps of the Capitol.

Tank was released from the truck, smelled the gauze containing the boy's scent, and immediately began tracking him over grass and concrete. In the end, it took Tank about 90 seconds to pass the test and Webb believes her kit would hold up when it's put to a real test.

"We collect scents this way when we track bad guys, but we've never had anything available that's precautionary for families," Webb said.

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