Lexus dealership teams with Operation Kidsafe to open free child safety station


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Operation Kidsafe International founder Mark J. Bott, right, provides Lisa Rose and her daughter, Makena, with a printout of Makena’s photo and fingerprints at the new free child safety fingerprinting station at Lexus of Melbourne.

Photo by Mike Gaffey

Lexus of Melbourne in Viera has partnered with Operation Kidsafe International to host Florida’s first free child safety fingerprinting station at the dealership for the next year.

Families can bring their children, grandchildren and special needs adults to the dealership at 6927 Bromley Drive during operating hours and use Operation Kidsafe equipment at no charge. In less than a minute, the equipment captures a child’s photo and fingerprints, using a digital video capture device and specialized software.

Parents receive an 8 ½-by-11 inch printout of the assembled data that they can provide to law enforcement during a family emergency, along with tips for establishing a family safety action plan. No database records are kept and families don’t need to bring any information.

“The core principles of what we do are that it has to be free and it has to be private for families,” Operation Kidsafe founder Mark J. Bott said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 19 at the dealership. 

Based in Springfield, Ill., the program has safeguarded more than 1 million children in 13 years, he said.

More than 2,000 children are reported missing every day in North America, said Bott, who founded the organization after a family friend’s daughter went missing.

The Viera station is the 49th established across the country, Bott said. 

“We only do one within a 50-mile radius because we don’t want to confuse the message with parents,” he said. “We want them to know to go to one place because what happens is then you build a synergy. But we would love to have more in Florida.”

T.R. Page, owner and general manager of Lexus of Melbourne, said he became interested in the program after contacting Bott and talking to a Lexus dealer in Kansas City who had established a station.

“We thought it was the perfect fit for our community,” Page said. “We’re the first one in the state of Florida. We like to be pioneers when we do things.”

Lexus employees are trained how to operate the equipment, Page said. “We can grab somebody who’s available, sit the kids down, give the printout to the parents and they can be on their way,” he said.

Lexus probably will continue the program after the first year, Page said. “We’ll see how it goes and how the community feels about it,” he said.

One of the first to use the equipment was Lisa Rose of Suntree, who obtained a photo and fingerprints of her daughter, Makena.

“I was just trying to use every tool that I can to keep her safe,” Rose said.

For more information, call Lexus of Melbourne at 321-473-7876 or go to Operationkidsafe.org.