Children living in Alexandria's public housing projects will soon be offered a second chance to participate in a city police-sponsored program designed to help identify missing children through fingerprints.
Last night the board of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority voted unanimously to extend the police fingerprinting program, which is based in the city's schools, to its public housing projects.
Board member Judith A. Hansen, who suggested the program be specially offered to public housing children, said when and how the program will be administered has not yet been determined, but she said the cost to the housing authority will be "minimal."
"Right now police are trying to reach the children in public schools before summer break," Hansen told the board. "And they are reaching 50 to 80 percent of the children." She said extending the program to public housing projects will help police fingerprint preschoolers who are missed in the school-based program.
The program is voluntary; participation is up to parents, and the fingerprint cards are given to the parents for use if a child disappears. None of the cards is retained for police files.
Juanita Carter, vice president of the public housing tenant council, expressed reservations about how the program will be received. "I feel it's a second chance for the parent," she said, "but I don't think the tenants will like it."
Gwen Menefee, who identified herself as someone interested in public housing issues, said after the meeting she thinks the program is a bad idea for public housing tenants. "We really don't have a problem with our children," she said. "Upper-income people may feel a need for this, but we don't."