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Children's prints made

May 08, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Jill Nuse, 24, of Maugansville, said Wednesday that if it weren't for another parent at her daughter Karlee Hines' nursery school, she probably never would have made the effort to get a set of her 5-year-old's fingerprints.

"It just really never crossed my mind," she said.

But recording the vital information was worth it, Nuse said, for now she has a fingerprint for each of Karlee's ten digits, which can be given to any law enforcement agency in a worst-case scenario.

Robert Budnicki, 44, of Williamsport, will get a special nod at a statewide Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Association dinner in June for his work to fingerprint local children, at no charge.

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Budnicki, a correctional officer at Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown, said he has taken the prints of about 80 youngsters, including 53 students and their family members at the Church of the Holy Trinity nursery school.

After Danielle Van Dam and Elizabeth Smart were taken from their homes in 2002, "I researched on the Internet and found these fingerprint kits," Budnicki said.

He said he didn't know of anyone who was doing regular fingerprinting of children, which he said should take place every six months from age 2 until the child is 14 to keep up with changing physiques.

He found www.justaboutme.com, which sells a fingerprint, DNA and information kit in bulk for $1 each.

"I felt it was well worth the money that I spent on it," Budnicki said.

Parents keep the foldout card with the ink prints on it, write their child's name on it and attach a photo. They can include a DNA sample in a small plastic bag by swabbing the child's mouth or pulling a hair sample.

Should a child be reported missing, parents can give the kit to police to help speed the process of finding the child.

"This is not the cure-all, but hopefully it'll help," Budnicki said.

He and fellow correctional officer Dave Shoemaker teamed up last year at the school, Budnicki taking prints and Shoemaker making sure the youngsters got the ink off their hands.

It takes about 30 seconds to get a set of prints, Budnicki said.

"It takes longer to clean 'em up," Shoemaker said.

The nursery school's director, Liviana Bidnost, said Budnicki should be praised for his work.

"He's a wonderful man," Bidnost said. "When you're looking at children and the safety of children, it should be the first priority ... and that's the kind of guy he is."

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