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Worcester County Sheriff

Lewis Evangelidis, back,

watches as a young person has his

eyes scanned through the Child Project.



HOLDEN — The eyes have it. And if the unthinkable happens and children go missing, the eyes could ensure they make it home safely.


The Child Project will make its Worcester County debut at Saturday’s Winter Festival at the Congregational Church. Children who participate in the program have their eyes photographed. The identifying characteristics in their irises are stored in a database maintained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Although a child’s physical appearance will change through the years, the iris remains the same, said Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, who brought the program to Worcester County.


“A child’s eyes are a permanent and unique way to identify them,’’ Evangelidis said in a prepared statement. “With this technology, a positive identification can be made within seconds.’’


This method of identification is 10 times more identifiable than a fingerprint.


Evangelidis, who lives in Holden, chose the winter festival to introduce the project. “This is a great opportunity to roll it out in a community I am familiar with,’’ he said.


Evangelidis will bring the iris scanner to the festival.


With a parent’s permission, a high-speed digital photo is taken of the child’s eyes. Unlike fingerprinting, nothing needs to be touched to complete the process.


The information is then stored in a registry maintained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Law enforcement and other authorized users have access to the information, which can positively identify a child in seconds.


“I cannot think of anything more important than protecting and keeping our children safe,’’ he said.