A new tool to help parents in the Okanagan keep their children safe is now available in Kelowna with the arrival of a permanent, free, digital fingerprint and photo service for youngsters.
The Operation Kidsafe service, which provides scanned fingerprints and digital photographs of children free of charge to their parents, will be located for the next year at Banister Cadillac Buick GMC Kelowna at Highway 97 and Leathead Road. The service started Tuesday afternoon and is available inside the car dealership’s showroom during regular business hours.
According to Bannister Kelowna boss Chad Banister, the decision to sponsor the service in the Okanagan—it will also be available at the company’s dealerships in Penticton and Vernon—reinforces his company’s motto that it is a “family business with family values.”
“We wanted to get involved because this is important,” said Bannister, whose three young children were the first to be fingerprinted with the digital equipment in Kelonwa Tuesday.
His wife Nadine said she felt it was important that parents have proper fingerprint and photo records of their children, which can be used to help identify them should something happen to them.
On the back of the digital records, information is given about how to set up a family safety plan, as well as safety tips for children gathered from both Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies.
Recording fingerprints is easy and painless with the digital equipment. Children simply place their fingers and thumbs, one at a time, on a smaller scanner pad and a digital image is recorded. In the past, similar services have been offered here for a few days at a time using ink for the fingerprinting.
But Operation Kidsafe founder Mark Bott, on hand Tuesday, said police officers have told him that often ink fingerprints—especially from very young children—are not usable because they tend to smudge if not taken correctly. He said while he recommends children be at least one year old to have their fingerprints recorded, the trained technicians using the equipment will to record fingerprints of children younger than that.
And, as he showed on Tuesday, that’s possible as children just a few months old participated in the first test of the system here.
Bott said Operation Kidsafe does not keep any records of the fingerprints and photos it provides to parents,recognizing the importance of privacy for the families involved. It gives parents a printout and no information is stored on the hard drive of the computer used.
Bannister said he hopes all parents with young children will use the free service and promised there would be no pressure from salespeople to sell parents vehicles if they come in for the Operation Kidsafe service. To get your child fingerprinted and photographed, ask for assistance at the dealership’s reception desk.