Police department in New Jersey invests in tracking devices to keep special needs children safe

BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- It was the ultimate game of hide and seek in the woods of Somerset County.

Eyewitness News Reporter Josh Einiger hiked about a half a mile into the woods, and waited for the police to track him down.

Earlier, Bernards Township Officer Tracy Baldassare had fitted Einiger with a radio frequency transmitter.

It was to demonstrate how old school technology can prevent a modern day nightmare, tracking special needs children prone to running away.

15 minutes after the police "lost" Einiger, they found him!

"That's a common thing hiding, hiding behind a tree just like you were or in an area where just simply looking you're not going to see them," Officer Baldassare said.

It took the police mere minutes to pinpoint Einiger's location in the middle of the woods. So, they say they don't understand why other departments haven't invested in the same technology.

"We're never going to be fixed. There's always going to be that hole," said Vanessa Fontaine, Avonte Oquendo's mother.

As Fontaine knows too well, it is a matter of life and death.

When her son Avonte ran from his Queens school in 2013, the NYPD searched for months before finally finding his body in Flushing Bay.

Senator Charles Schumer has sponsored Avonte's Law in the U.S. Senate, to fund the purchase of tracking equipment like this, but it's been stalled for months.

"I don't want another family to experience this, so I'm sitting here and I'm hoping that someone will have a heart and say let's get this passed," Fontaine said.

Bernards Township didn't wait for the feds to chip in, they paid for the gear themselves, and the chief said it was money well spent.

"Hey! This is only $6,000. If anything, for the peace of mind. You're a department my size? Do it," said Chief Brian Bobowitz, Bernards Township Police Department.

Right now, they're keeping track of 17 kids like 13-year-old Brandt Nelson, whose mother signed him up to take advantage of a simple technology with an even simpler goal.

For more information on Avonte's Law, please visit: http://www.perecman.com/avonte-oquendo/
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