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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Marc Klaas

Aired June 9, 2003 - 20:06   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There was, of course, national attention in the hours after the trial that was taken from her home, including a nationwide Amber -- Amber Alert.
Now when she did turn up, as I just mentioned, a store clerk recognized her, called the police. Here to talk about the importance of an immediate alert system, Marc Klaas, a man who dedicated himself to improving child safety in the years since his daughter, Polly, was kidnapped and killed.

Marc, thanks for being with us. Obviously...

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: My pleasure.

COOPER: .... a happy ending tonight in one regard. But this little girl has a lot ahead of her, doesn't she?

KLAAS: Well, she certainly does. I mean, she was brutalized. Her whole family was brutalized in the worst possible way. Just imagine what it would be like to be in the mind of a 9-year-old girl and to be ripped away from your family through that violence like that and goodness knows what happened over the course of the next couple of days and then to be released. She does have an incredible recovery period in front of her. Fortunately, the resources are available.

COOPER: Resources available from the state? I mean, what sort of resources are there for her?

KLAAS: Well, in California, as in many states, there are these victims' compensation funds that have been established and basically they use -- they use drug monies for these funds. And what they do is they make resources available to the victims through, in California, the district attorney offices, the victim services departments. And she'll be able to take advantage of psychological counseling as well as her brother and her mother over the course of the next several years.

So hopefully, they'll get the right -- they'll be matched up with the right people and they'll be able do the recoveries that are necessary and move on with their lives. And you have to remember, Anderson, these little kids -- and we have seen this time after time now, as more of them are recovered alive, particularly in the last year or so -- that they are able to get back on track with their lives.

They're very resilient children. They understand that terrible things have been done with them, but they're given the dignity and respect that they deserve by their friends, their neighbors and the nation as a whole and it gives them a tremendous boost as they move forward.

COOPER: When you look at this case, obviously, a success. Is it the Amber Alert that you most credit?

KLAAS: Well, absolutely. Because what it is -- you know what it is? It's this whole idea that last year we didn't know what to do in these kinds of situations at all. But over the course of the year, from the time Danielle van Dam was kidnapped to the recovery of the two young ladies in Lancaster, California, law enforcement learned how to better respond with multi jurisdictional task forces, search and rescue operations were put together that combined the efforts and they combined the resources of many counties. Volunteer response has been tremendous. Media knows how to respond. The public knows how to respond.

We take this -- we've turned it into a No. 1 priority. You have fabulous organizations like San Jose police. And, in fact, so many of the California agencies -- now I can't speak too highly of them -- are able to respond in exactly right way, and we're getting these kids back time after time now. I think it's just absolutely tremendous. It's just an absolute tribute to all the hard work that is done by so many people, but is also the spirit of America and to the -- just the idea that we now understand how dangerous this is, how in jeopardy these children are, and how much they mean to us collectively.

COOPER: And one little girl is home tonight. Marc Klaas, thank you so much...

KLAAS: She sure is.

COOPER: ...for joining us. Appreciate it.

KLAAS: Yes, sir.

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