Crime Watch

Database helps police reach your loved ones in case of emergency


Special to The Miami Herald

As I drive thru our streets in Miami-Dade I often wonder about the possibility of getting into an accident. And the thought comes into mind, “how would my family know” if I get into an accident. I have seen many accidents over the years, where people have died on the scene, and their families didn’t even know about it. This happens mostly because police have no information regarding a contact. Many years ago, while riding with a police officer in Hialeah, we arrived on the scene of a motorcycle accident, where a youth was killed on the scene, and all I could think of was his mother: How do we find her? How do we tell her that her son is dead in the middle of Red Road?. My heart was so heavy with pain, and I was so frustrated that we couldn’t do anything right away.

Over the years there have been several programs such as the ICE (In Case of Emergency) where you can place in your cell phone a phone number of your son or daughter or spouse using the initials ICE next to the name you want them to contact. I also place that information on the inside of my visor or in the glove compartment. I also have suggested to parents to place a contact number in the back of their child’s car seat.

Well, the state of Florida has a program that was sent to me by a reader who thought I should share with my readers. This program is through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and can be found at, where you can enter your emergency contact information by entering your driver license or identification card. The system allows Floridians to voluntarily provide emergency contact online, giving law-enforcement immediate access to this information and making it easier for them to speak with someone quicker in cases of emergency.

Here are some frequently asked questions provided by DHSMV that will help you decide if you want to do this:

• Who will have access to my information?

Only law enforcement personnel will have access to your emergency contact information.

• Where is this information stored?

The information is stored in the Driver and Vehicle Information Database system which is a secured database used by most law-enforcement agencies in the state of Florida.

• Will my contact information be used for any other purpose?

No, this information will only be used by law-enforcement officers to notify designated contacts if a motorist is seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash.

If your child takes a school bus, be sure they have parent contact information inside their backpack, not on the outside where strangers have access.

I want to thank the reader that suggested this information and as always I love hearing from you with your concerns and ideas.

In closing, let me remind you that today we change our clocks forward, and it’s also time to change the batteries in our smoke alarms!

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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