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MISSING PERSONS - IF THE POLICE WON'T SEARCH, WHO WILL?

NCJ Number
65079
Journal
Police Magazine Volume: 3 Issue: 2 Dated: (MARCH 1980) Pages: 38-45
Author(s)
J POTTER
Date Published
1980
Length
8 pages
Annotation
THE HANDLING OF MISSING PERSONS REPORTS BY MUNICIPAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS IS CONSIDERED.
Abstract
WHILE POLICE EXECUTIVES EXPRESS SYMPATHY FOR DISTRAUGHT FAMILIES AND FRIENDS OF THOSE WHO DISAPPEAR, MANY OF THEM MAINTAIN THAT IT IS NOT THEIR JOB TO SEARCH FOR MISSING PERSONS. THEY EMPHASIZE THAT TO BE MISSING IS NOT A CRIME. EVEN MASS MURDER IS SOMETIMES NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE A POLICE DEPARTMENT REEXAMINE ITS APPROACH TO MISSING PERSONS CASES. MISSING PERSONS REPORTS ARE HANDLED DIFFERENTLY FROM CITY TO CITY. IN SOME CITIES, SUCH AS NEW YORK AND CHICAGO, A SPECIFIC UNIT AT POLICE HEADQUARTERS KEEPS ALL FILES AND RECORDS. HOWEVER, IN NEWARK, N.J., MISSING PERSONS INVESTIGATIONS ARE ASSIGNED TO DETECTIVES IN THE YOUTH AID BUREAU WHO ALSO CARRY OUT OTHER ASSIGNMENTS. IN YONKERS, N.Y., ALL MISSING PERSONS CASES ARE HANDLED BY 12 INVESTIGATORS IN THE YOUTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICE DIVISION. CRITERIA FOR DECIDING WHETHER TO SEARCH FOR A MISSING PERSON ARE FAIRLY STANDARD IN MOST CITIES WITH A POPULATION OF MORE THAN 100,000. MISSING PERSONS UNDER A CERTAIN AGE (USUALLY 12 YEARS) AND ELDERLY, SENILE, OR RETARDED PERSONS WARRANT IMMEDIATE SEARCHES. MOST JUVENILE AND ADULT DISAPPEARANCES, HOWEVER, ARE HANDLED WITH MORE RESTRAINT UNLESS THE PERSON DISAPPEARED UNDER SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. MANY POLICE DEPARTMENTS ASSUME THAT TEENAGERS WHO DISAPPEAR ARE RUNAWAYS AND THAT THEY WILL RETURN HOME OR REVEAL THEIR WHEREABOUTS. MISSING HUSBANDS AND WIVES ARE TREATED IN A SIMILAR FASHION. IN CHICAGO, THE STAIRS (STORAGE AND INFORMATION RETRIEVAL SYSTEM) COMPUTER STORES INFORMATION ON ALL CASES NOT CLEARED AFTER 7 DAYS. WHEN KEY WORDS ARE FED INTO THE COMPUTER, IT RETRIEVES INFORMATION ON ALL CASES CONTAINING THOSE WORDS. THIS MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO DISCOVER SIMILARITIES AMONG CASES AND TO DETERMINE IF A PERSON HAS BEEN REPORTED MISSING BEFORE. PHOTOGRAPHS ARE INCLUDED. (DEP)