WinnipegREALTORS® joins the Manitoba Amber Alert Network

WinnipegREALTORS® is pleased to launch its participation in the Manitoba Amber Alert Network. Through the use of a simultaneous paging or text messaging technology, over 1000 REALTORS® will now be an extra ‘eyes and to help find a missing child.

"Our more recent adoption of a sophisticated messaging technology and the successful testing of it in the past few months has made it possible for WinnipegREALTORS® to volunteer its 1000 plus REALTOR® Touchbase Real Estate messaging system to assist the Winnipeg Police Service as a new partner in the Manitoba Amber Alert Network, "said Deborah Goodfellow, President of WinnipegREALTORS®. "We could not be more pleased to do our part in helping the police deal with one of the most difficult and pressing situations possible since a missing child in danger is such an all encompassing community concern where everyone must act expediently and responsibly to ensure a successful outcome."

"Technically, few organizations are set up to contact a large group of individuals in the event of an emergency," said Alain Brunel, vice-president of Touchbase Real Estate. "WinnipegREALTORS® SMS messaging system is a primary communication tool proven to be very effective in alerting all Touchbase users. Touchbase is immensely proud to see its technology contribute to the Manitoba Amber Alert Network."

REALTORS® are not only connected by a sophisticated Touchbase messaging system for immediate notification of an urgent Amber Alert message, but the nature of their work involves a very mobile group of individuals dispersed throughout the city and outlying municipalities. They are trained to pay attention to detail, such as describing properties of interest to clients and dealing with complicated forms. Moreover, their adoption of new technology to enhance their value to clients makes them ideal for assisting the police in finding an abducted child.

Using the same messaging Touchbase technology in the lower mainland of B.C., an 11 year-old run-away boy was found by a REALTOR®. Upon checking his text-message alert from the RCMP, he looked out his window, spotted the boy and immediately called 911. The extremely anxious and concerned parents were reunited with their son. Six years later in 2006, a REALTOR® in Langley, B.C., was instrumental in helping the RCMP locate a missing teenager.

"We are grateful to the REALTORS® for offering their support to these time-critical cases," said Christy Dzikowicz, Director of Missing Children's Services at Child Find Manitoba. "In a missing child case, especially those in an AMBER Alert situation where the child may be at imminent risk, every minute counts. Having over 1,000 extra sets of eyes and ears looking is a great tool and could prove to be extremely valuable in helping to solve these cases."

How does an Amber Alert from the Winnipeg Police Service work? First, an Amber Alert is used only for the most serious, time critical child abduction cases. One has yet to be called in Manitoba. The Amber Alert system works because it instantly notifies the local community of the abduction and provides as much detailed information as possible so everyone involved can help to the police to find the child quickly and unharmed.

A small dedicated group of WinnipegREALTORS® volunteers, headed up by Director Don Cook, will all receive the Amber Alert message 24-7 via e-mail from the Winnipeg Police Service and then send the group message out to all REALTORS® on Touchbase. The text-message limit is 300 characters and will include the most salient points from the Amber Alert notification. The text-message will also include a link to Child Find Manitoba's web-site where pictures and other pertinent information can be obtained.

"We see our direct participation in the Manitoba Amber Alert Network as a real opportunity to marry our technology messaging system with our connected network of over 1,000 professionals who I am confident in their ability to act quickly and effectively on an alert," said Don Cook, a director of WinnipegREALTORS® and the REALTOR® spearheading this important partnership with the Winnipeg Police Service and Child Find Manitoba. "REALTORS® by their very nature are mobile and predisposed to action so can be instrumental in helping with a missing child incident."

"The Winnipeg Police Service wholeheartedly welcomes WinnipegREALTORS® as a new partner in our Manitoba Amber Alert Network," said Winnipeg Police Service Police Chief Keith McCaskill. "We have worked cooperatively and effectively with WinnipegREALTORS® over the years with programs such as Realty Watch/Home Security and more recently on grow ops so know the kind of commitment they have to help us with Amber Alert and finding missing children."

The Police Chief added, " In order for the Winnipeg Police Service to be the best it can be at meeting its public safety objectives, its is incumbent on it to reach out to the community and work with partners like the REALTORS® where they have demonstrated a willingness and ability to help us." "It is all about partnering with people and organizations to make our city a safer and better place to live."

"First we need to walk before we run so WinnipegREALTORS® will ensure more member education is emphasized on this Amber Alert partnership we are launching today," said Cook. "However, as has happened with other real estate boards across the country, we believe it will be possible for us to use Touchbase to do other alerts where our network could be of great assistance to the Winnipeg Police Service and Child Find Manitoba.

Established in 1903, WinnipegREALTORS® is a professional association representing over 1,500 real estate brokers, salespeople, appraisers, and financial members active in the Greater Winnipeg Area real estate market. Its REALTOR® members adhere to a strict code of ethics and share a state-of-the-art Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) designed exclusively for REALTORS®. WinnipegREALTORS® serves its members by promoting the benefits of an organized real estate profession.

For further information, contact Peter Squire at 786-8854.

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