Jacksonville mayor announces new program to help find missing persons

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayor Lenny Curry, Fire Chief Keith Powers and Sheriff Mike Williams have created a new program to help their departments when searching for missing persons.

It’s called the Missing and Endangered Persons Search and Rescue Program (MEPSAR).

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Jacksonville Fire Department went to City Hall on Wednesday to announce it’s official, although the agencies have been putting it into practice for a couple of years already.

“It’s on paper. This is the way we’re going to do business moving forward,” said Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

The program uses fire and police resources and personnel like we’d see during a hurricane or wildfire scenario.

“We flood that area, we surround that area with apparatus just riding up and down the streets,” said Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers.

These teams helped save the lives of Braxton and Bri’ya Williams in 2019.

“A young brother and sister were found huddled in a small wooden structure in the woods on the city’s westside,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

These teams also helped quickly locate kids last week.

“That’s when they were found, early on,” Powers pointed out. “And that’s the key to this is getting out there early on.” These agencies want to help spare families from tragedy. “I can think of few things more heartbreaking and stressful than a parent losing their child,” Curry said. “All three of us are fathers and we cannot imagine the grief. And that is why we are here today.”

Making the program official also lays the groundwork for the future.

“That’s to make sure that when Sheriff Williams and myself are gone, that the folks behind us can use this program,” Powers explained. “And it’s also important to have it in policy because we have agencies reaching out now to us from all over the state and the country to see what we’re doing.” This announcement comes one day after National Missing Children’s Day, which is commemorated on May 25.