Dirk Tarpley is part of the FBI’s 48-member Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, a year-old unit designed to rush experienced help to local police dealing with a suspected abduction, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Before the team was formed, each FBI office relied on its own expertise. Now, specialists arrive in person within hours, drawn from across the region involved. The recent case of two abducted teen boys in Missouri involved agents from Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Contrary to common misconceptions, the FBI doesn’t have to wait 24 hours or until there is evidence a state line was crossed. The most hectic time in any investigation is the start, Tarpley said, calling it “controlled chaos.” The unit specializes in taming it. Agents advise local investigators on steps to take and leads to follow. Local investigators may be good, Tarpley said, but they may have never seen a child abduction before. Contrary to a common portrayal on TV, Tarpley said, FBI agents don’t come in and take over. “We’re just there to assist,” he said.