It's No 'Avalon,' But Fbi Film May Help Save Children

November 18, 1990|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

"Westminster barracks, I've found a body on a farm off of Route 140 . . . black male in his early teens. I'll need an investigator and the crime scene unit."

As the Maryland State Police roped off the area and investigator Charlene Jenkins looked over the scene, cameras rolled for the FBI's newest training film, "NCIC -- Missing Children."

All week, troopers have worked with the bureau to create a 10-minute film on the National Crime Information Computer in Washington, which compiles information on missing or wanted people and other crime data.

"We want to make law enforcement officers aware of NCIC and it's use," said Liz Crawmer, a systems technician with the Maryland State Police Telecom department, which works with NCIC.

The tape -- to be distributed to police departments in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada by the end of December -- portrays three situations in which the computer could be used to find missing children.

"This is designed to be shown in a roll-call setting," said Lt. Tom Murrill of Maryland's telecom unit, adding that the film is short enough for troopers to view before or during a shift. "It's succinct and gets the message across."

Actors for the video are Maryland State Police employees and their families, chosen by the police field operations center based on prior experience, Murrill said.

"They chose people who had public speaking parts and had been on screen in the past," he said.

The first scene involves a 2-year-old, played by Samantha Lewis, who wanders away from her family during a picnic. The daughter of Cpl. Tom and Marian Lewis of Sandymount, she is shown being found by helicopters and bloodhounds in the scene shot at the Carroll County Farm Museum on Tuesday.

Five-year-old Jessica, the Lewis' other daughter, acted in a child-abduction scene on Wednesday. According to the script, the girl was to be "kidnapped by a stranger" as she walked home from school, said Tfc.

Michael Haas of the Westminster barracks.

But, at Jessica's insistence, a second "stranger" was added to the scene.

"She wouldn't get in the car with Trooper Haas," Crawmer said. "So, we had to have her father in the scene."

These scenarios show the children being returned to their families, with the aid of NCIC. However, the teen-age runaway -- played by Maryland NCIC studio producer Carroll Evans' son Tavaris -- is not so lucky.

His character was the body found by Tfc. Shirley A. Dixon of the Glen Burnie barracks during Thursday's filming.

Jody Otto, NCIC trainer for the FBI, portrayed the body the day Tavaris was in school.

"This scene shows that if the system isn't used, not all runaways come home alive," said Marie Bernoi of the FBI's NCIC training department.

Other shots include a trooper discussing the emotional aspects of recovering a child and the manpower necessary, Bernoi said.

Within Maryland, NCIC is used for all of the state's missing persons information, Murrill said.

"We use the system every day, since Maryland doesn't maintain its own (missing persons) files," he said.

Members of the Maryland State Police volunteered to help with this film, said Bernoi. This is the fourth police unit NCIC has used to produce videos on the computer, she said, adding that the film crew has worked in Arizona, New York and Los Angeles.

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