By: Betty Vedrine/Bahamas Information Services
The long-awaited Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (MARCO) Alert System is on the way after a final test was conducted. The live test, which was performed by BTC, was an opportunity for members of the media — who will play a key role in the system — to see how the process unfolds.
The event was held at the Ministry of National Security on Wednesday, 16th February. Minister of National Security, Hon. Wayne Munroe said that families will no long have to suffer through the turmoil of waiting the traditional 48 hours before an official search would typically be conducted by the police. The Minister said that the new alert system would be immediately activated once a child is reported missing and details are given to the police. He said that the MARCO Alert system was tabled in 2016 by the late former Minister of National Security, Hon. Bernard J. Nottage. He also said, the system may not have been implemented had it not been for the urging of Marco Archer’s family.
“Today, we are happy to conduct this final testing of the MARCO Alert system,” he said. “No longer will families have to suffer through the agony of being told to wait for 48 hours before a search can begin for their missing children or loved ones.
First Lady Ann Marie Davis of the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister was also in attendance and said she was happy to see that the system works, and congratulated BTC for accomplishing the goal of bringing the system to fruition.
“I am very happy to see that the system is working and will be some comfort to persons whose children and loved ones are missing,” she said. “The system will also assist in other areas as well, such NEMA and sex trafficking.”
CEO of BTC, Mr. Andre Foster said that it was a momentous day for BTC. “This is truly a momentous day for us at BTC as we bring this alert system to fruition,”said Mr. Foster. “This emergency broadcast system will allow for alerts of any national event to be communicated to the public.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police Dames explained how the alert process would be activated. “Once the family of the missing child contacts the police to report the child missing and after all of the details have been verified, the Commissioner of Police would give the order to engage the alert system. The alert would then be immediately sent through all of the various channels to alert the public.” ACP Dames said that the system will be officially launched in the upcoming weeks.
BTC presented a framed portrait painted by celebrity artist, Jamal Rolle, of Marco Archer to his family.
The MARCO Alert system is named after the late Marco Archer, an 11-year-old sixth grader, who was reported missing in September 2011.