Missing person reports are taken in person or by telephone in accordance with the department's policy criteria and how critical the incident is. There is no waiting period for reporting a missing person. A person may be declared "missing" when his/her whereabouts are unknown and unexplainable for a period of time that is regarded by knowledgeable parties as highly unusual or suspicious in consideration of the person's behavior patterns, plans or routines. The five categories for listing someone as "missing-critical" are:
- May be the subject of foul play
- Because of age (young or old), may be unable to properly safeguard or care for him/herself
- Suffers from diminished mental capacity or medical conditions that are potentially life-threatening if left untreated or unattended
- Is a patient of a mental institution and is considered potentially dangerous to himself or others
- Has demonstrated the potential for suicide
- May have been involved in a boating, swimming or other sporting accident or natural disaster
If your child is missing, you need to act immediately. If your child is missing from home, search the house. Check closets, piles of laundry, in and under beds, inside large appliances, outbuildings, basement and attic, and inside vehicles, including trunks - wherever a child may crawl or hide. If you still cannot find your child, immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
If your child disappears in a store, notify the store manager or security office. Then immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Many stores have a Code Adam plan of action— if a child is missing in the store, employees immediately mobilize to look for the missing child. When you call law enforcement, provide your child's name, date of birth, height, weight, and any other unique identifiers, such as glasses and braces. Tell them when you noticed that your child was missing and what clothing he or she was wearing. Request that your child's name and identifying information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center Missing Person File.
After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) toll-free at 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678) or use the live hotline to talk to NCMEC through their website.
The Alert will be activated as soon as an abduction is reported and the investigation reveals the following:
- The law enforcement agency believes that the child has been abducted.
- The child is 17 years old or younger and the law enforcement agency believes the child is in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death. If the individual is 18 or older and the law enforcement agency believes the individual is at a greater risk for immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death because the individual possesses a proven physical or mental disability, we will also activate an Amber Alert.
- All other possibilities for the victim's disappearance have been reasonably excluded.
- There is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the victim, suspect, or vehicle used in the abduction.
Wireless Amber Alerts
Statistics show that the first three hours after an abduction are the most critical in recovery efforts. By signing up for wireless Amber Alerts, you can play an integral role in the recovery of an abducted child.
Family Survival Guide
This guide was written by parents and family members who have experienced the disappearance of a child. The family survival guide (PDF) contains their combined advice concerning what to expect when a child is missing, what needs to be done, and where to go for help. It explains the role that various agencies and organizations play in the search for a missing child and discusses some of the important issues that need to be considered.