'Red-Flagging' Missing Children's Birth Certificates Proposed

Times Staff Writer

In an effort to help track missing children, Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande proposed Wednesday that birth certificates of children reported missing be "red-flagged" in the county recorder's office.

"When a request is received by the recorder's office for a red-flagged birth certificate, proper authorities would be notified," Nestande said in a letter to his fellow supervisors. "Hopefully, this would assist in a family being reunited."

Nestande urged supervisors to approve a plan next week that would implement the system within 60 days.

Birth certificates of children born in the county are registered at the recorder's office, and Nestande said they are frequently used to obtain a passport or to enroll a child in school.

He said the county program would augment the Missing Children Act of 1986, state legislation requiring the attorney general's office to maintain a statewide information computer system on missing children. It also urges schools to investigate the whereabouts of pupils absent without excuse.

"An entire industry has been created for the purpose of child protection, specifically with regard to missing children," wrote Nestande, who is the Republican nominee for secretary of state.

"Depicting missing children on bags and cartons is only one of many efforts that have proven to be effective in locating missing children. We must continuously pursue new approaches to locate these children and discourage this abominable activity, Nestande said in his letter."

Nestande said that when law enforcement agencies received a report that a child born in Orange County was missing, they would notify the recorder, who would red-flag the birth certificate. When the recorder received a request for a red-flagged certificate, he would not honor the request until getting direction from the proper law enforcement agency.

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