Plano police

Allen Police Program Brings Missing Kids Home Faster

Allen police are hoping more people sign up for a growing program aimed at finding missing children and adults quickly.

"The last thing any parent wants is for their child to go missing for an extended period of time. One minute may seem like an hour," said Officer Sam Rippamonti.

Currently, only 53 people are registered for "Project HOME," ranging in age from 3 to 94 years old. Police want that number to grow.

Parents of children with special needs or people with elderly parents are encouraged to stop by the police station and fill out a short form that includes details like height, weight, hair color, age, hobbies and fears. A current photo is also taken.

The information is put into a database accessible by Allen police, paramedics and dispatchers, allowing them to reunite lost children and elderly adults to their families fast.

T.J. Puckett, 11, was the first one entered into the database. He has autism and tends to wander away from home and school.

"It is so much peace knowing there's a group of people helping me look out for him," said mother Tina Puckett.

The first time T.J. wandered away from home, his mother said, was when he was about 3 years old. He was found on the next street over.

His parents went door to door to ask neighbors to always keep an eye out for their little boy, but Tina Puckett said she realized she needed more help. After she approached Allen police, Project HOME was born.

"It is a very scary, heart-wrenching feeling when you turn around and your kid is gone," she said. "Because it happens faster than you can ever imagine."

Allen police said that on Thursday, they were able to locate a missing 12-year-old boy with autism within 30 minutes thanks to Project HOME.

Frisco Police, McKinney Police and Plano Police have similar programs residents can register for called "Take Me Home."

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