LAKE PARK, Fla. (CBS12) — It’s a call that can change a child’s life, especially if that call comes into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Now, the organization’s new call center has officially relocated from the Washington D.C. area to Lake Park.
The call center, which will be fully staffed 24 hours a day, is now in NCEMC’s original building, where the movement to save missing and exploited children began.
On Wednesday afternoon, more than 100 people turned out at the center for the ribbon-cutting. Law enforcement from throughout South Florida, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the FBI and Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
In addition to the move, the center now has an additional 19 people specifically trained, including case managers and cyber tip analysts, who answer about 350 calls a day.
“Adam is here today,” John Walsh said. “For sure.”
Adam is one of John and Reve Walsh’s sons and his story shocked South Florida.
Adam was abducted when he was six years old from the Hollywood Mall back in 1981. Two weeks later, his body was discovered decapitated in rural St. Lucie County.
“His murder and abduction changed our lives forever and made our lives really though," Walsh told CBS12 News at the time. "I wouldn’t want anyone to walk in my shoes.”
That’s why his family has been on a mission ever since.
“Adam was the victim,” Walsh said. “We are the left behind heartbroken parents.”
“I grew up with my parents saying make sure Adam didn’t die in vain and to help his song continue, we must do the singing,” Callahan Walsh said.
Callahan Walsh never got to meet his older brother.
By working with local, state, and federal authorities last year alone, NCEMC worked on 25,000 cases, received 18.4 million calls and recorded 1,600 attempted abductions.
Many of the cases began unraveling when those calls came in.
“Those call center staff operators are the front lines of what we do,” Callahan Walsh said.
They realize they’re fighting a long, hard battle, but with Adam as their driving force, they have no plans on backing down.
In 2018 alone, NCEMC helped law enforcement and families with more than 25,000 cases of missing children.
If you need help or know someone who does, you can call their tip line at 800-THE-LOST.