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Lake Township police credit recent officer training after locating missing teen, potentially a victim of trafficking

The department is giving credit to its Missing Children Program and the training two of its officers received earlier this year.

A missing Toledo teen who might be a trafficking victim is now safe, after being found by Lake Township Police

The department is giving credit to its Missing Children Program and the training two of its officers, Tyler DeWitt and Paul Drake,  received earlier this year.

They're hoping that training can help them locate other missing kids. 

"This is a very big hot spot for trafficking; Detroit, Cleveland, you know, Chicago, everywhere," said Sgt. Matt Simon with the Lake Township Police Department describing an area where many truckers and other travelers pass through every day.

Simon also knows the dangers that missing teens and children face. And for that reason he says his department wants to be proactive in getting kids back home. 

Earlier this year, the department sent two of its officers to a training on how to spot the signs, and follow through on reports of missing and exploited children, and sex trafficking. 

RELATED: No, most sex trafficking victims are not kidnapped by strangers

"With this program and the training that they received, they're able to pass it on to the rest of us. We've put together a booklet that we can all refer to," said Simon. 

That booklet includes photos and information they review weekly. 

And on Tuesday,  the department's Missing Children Program proved to be effective. 

After a tip from a caller and the knowledge from the trained officers, the department was able to locate a missing 17-year-old boy who they say may have been a victim of trafficking. 

RELATED: Human Trafficking: How social media, mental health, and COVID-19 impact victims and survivors

"When we responded, the juvenile was not at the hotel that he was reportedly at. We did some investigation, asked around, and he was actually located at a neighboring hotel here in the township," said Simon.

The teen was then taken to the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center where he will be helped. 

The Lake Township Police Department recently recovered its first missing juvenile since the inception of its Missing...

Posted by Lake Township Police Department on Thursday, January 27, 2022

Simon says it means everything to them, knowing they possibly saved his life. 

"We were able to safely take him off the streets you know, Because who knows what could have happened," said Simon. "And you know from there he goes where he goes, and we're back at it the next day."

This Monday, the department plans to put up display boards of missing children at Lake Township gas stations. 

They say this is where missing kids are more likely to be found. 

And truckers passing through the area are in the best position to have seen them. 

They're also asking anyone to call 911 who may have seen something suspicious or suspect someone may be a missing person.

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