CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart formed the Child Rescue Unit in 2012 for one simple reason: No other law enforcement agency was searching for at-risk children who had run away from group homes or escape abuse or neglect.
The unit has found more than 750 children. A majority are age 11 or older.
2 Investigator Brad Edwards recently rode along with the unit as they looked for a young girl who left home.
They eventually found her safe and sound, but the unit’s enthusiasm was tempered because for every five children they recover, another seven go missing.
Sgt. Dion Trotter, who heads the unit, is haunted by the story of one young person in particular – that of Desiree Robinson.
On Christmas Eve, the 16-year-old was murdered in the south suburbs by a john she met on Backpage.com, authorities say.
“We have to get to these kids quick because the longer they’re out there the greater the opportunity is that they’re going to be grabbed by one of these people and their life will be forever changed for the worse,” Dart says.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is involved in the effort. The child-welfare agency contributes funding and staff to the unit.
“This has been a very good partnership,” DCFS’s Neil Skene says.