Assets.

Defined as “a useful and desirable thing or quality,” it’s a word that’s been used often by law enforcement officers in the days following the disappearance of La Porte City teen Jake Wilson.
While it may feel like a dark cloud has been skulking above La Porte City as the community waits and prays for Jake’s safe return, this incident reminds us of the many assets that exist within our community of 2,200 people.

From the very beginning, countless examples of the best humanity has to offer have been on display in our small town. On that fateful Saturday night, when word that Jake was missing came in, it was La Porte City Police Chief Chris Brecher and the city’s Public Safety Clerk, Katie Davison, who immediately reported for duty. By the time hundreds of volunteers arrived the next morning to assist with the search, they were still on the job, having worked throughout the night coordinating the effort to bring Jake home.

As the search for the teen continued, community assets have kept coming forward. Following a public plea to help search some 255 square miles of terrain in and around La Porte City, more than 2,000 volunteers gave freely of their time over a four day period. When the operation required all-terrain vehicles to take the search across farm fields and the green belt, the task force soon had more than 120 ATVs and UTVs at their disposal. Members of the La Porte City police and fire departments have been working overtime, 18 hour days, in some cases. Others have stepped forward to prepare and serve meals. If the operation had a need, it seemed someone was always at the ready to respond.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson was clear from the beginning. As places where Jake might be were systematically eliminated, the public could expect the investigation side of the operation to build and intensify, he said.

True to his word, it didn’t take long for dozens of representatives from local, state and federal agencies to arrive in La Porte City and begin the detailed work of examining the hundreds of leads and pieces of possible evidence the case has generated. Assets like drones, canine police units, horses and the aforementioned ATVs soon gave way to professionals with specialized investigatory from a host of agencies.

Sadly, after a week of searching, the statistics on missing children paint a less than rosy picture. As the length of time searching for a missing child increases, the liklihood of a favorable outcome typically decreases.

In a handful of days, it is amazing the number of lives Jake Wilson has touched. From the hundreds of people involved in his search and the investigators and specialists from agencies throughout the midwest, to those following the story by way of media coverage, so very many people now have a connection to this special young man.

As we wait and we wonder, this much we do know: It is the same unconditional love and support offered up by caring citizens in and around La Porte City that will define how our community moves forward in the coming days, regardless the outcome of the ongoing investigation into Jake Wilson’s disappearance.