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A program to involve civilian vehicles with two-way radios in searches for missing persons and crime suspects will begin about Jan. 1, Niagara County Emergency Management Director James C. Volkosh said Wednesday.

The program, suggested by Sheriff's Department Special Deputy William D. Tolhurst, has been dubbed CARE, for Civilian Alert Rescue

Volkosh said it would work along with the existing Community Alert Network, or CAN.

It's a system of automated emergency telephone calls used to coordinate searches, announce emergency evacuations, and call in large numbers of off-duty police and fire personnel in case of a disaster. It's been in use in the county for about 15 years, Volkosh said.

Tolhurst's suggestion was to link dispatchers for highway departments, ambulance services, taxicab companies, and public transportation, and utility
companies to the CAN

If a missing person or suspect at large were reported in their area, the CAN network would call the radio dispatch center of the appropriate company or agency. The dispatcher would broadcast a description of the person being sought, adding more eyes and ears to the regular search by police

Volkosh said civilians will be instructed to call 911 or their own dispatch center if they spot the subject of a search.

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