You may have noticed some heightened police presence in Tyler on Thursday.
The Tyler Police, Smith County Sheriff's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers participated in child abduction training. The FBI is helping them provide a quick and effective response to crimes against children.
The training began at the abduction site in a Tyler neighborhood.
KLTV treated it like a real investigation, asking officers for updates on the case.
"Emily Austin was walking to school and she has not shown up at school yet so she has gone missing, no one knows her whereabouts," replied one participant working as the public information officer.
Authorities wanted to make this training exercise seem as real as possible, so they asked residents in the neighborhood to participate. Those who agreed received tags, which were placed on their mailboxes letting authorities know they are participants.
Kirk Hudson said the community was contacted back in November about volunteering for the training.
"Residents were asked if they wanted to participate as role players and then they were given an idea of what would happen with regard to the exercise, which was an abduction of an individual and how the agents would be going and asking questions of who was in the neighborhood,"Hudson explained.
Down the street from Hudson, another tag was taped to a mailbox. Buen Arago also opened his home to authorities for this exercise.
"They go through my house, look around. They are really trained to do this questioning. They are really good," Arago said.
"I think it's a great thing so that when and if this unfortunate thing does happen, then they're prepared," Hudson said.
FBI Special Agent Brent Chambers said they have received a lot of support.
"A lady came up to one of the agents and said, 'Thank you for doing this training. We support you 100 percent. Anything we can do to help?' So, they were offering to help," Special Agent Chambers said.
As for the victim in this training? She was found safe and sound at a Tyler hotel.
"It was a rush. It really got your heart beating fast," explained Lauren who played the victim.
With the exercise complete, the next step is debriefing the trainees, to figure out what went well and what needs improvement. So, if the real thing ever happens, they will be ready.
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