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- The Difference Between a "Missing Person" and "Locating a Person"
This publicity can also lead police and others to devote more resources to solving the case. Keep in mind though that the media is not guaranteed and not likely to cover your story. You should immediately call your local police. Provide them with a detailed physical description including what clothing he or she was wearing and where and when he was last seen.
Federal law prohibits police from imposing a waiting period before accepting a missing child. Federal and state governments, law enforcement and organizations provide special resources and services to help search for missing children or teens.
Share NAMI. Finding a Missing Loved One The thought of a family member, a friend or someone else you care about going missing can be terrifying. Contact the Police Immediately Provide the police where your loved one is missing with all the information you can. Check Nearby Hospitals, Churches, Homeless Shelters and Libraries Keep in mind that some of these places may have confidentiality restrictions and be unable to confirm if your loved one is there.
Your poster should include: Two recent photos Name Hometown, plus state Height, weight, age Vehicle license plate number and photo of car Place last seen at Phone number of police station or investigator Check Out Social Media or Create a Website Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other accounts of your loved one may provide clues that can point you to where your loved one is. Post a recent picture and specific information about your loved one including clothing last seen wearing, physical description, age and information about glasses, tattoos etc.
Where they were last seen and where they like to hang out.
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Upload your missing person poster as a PDF so it can easily be shared and printed out. Disclosing that your loved one has a mental health condition should be considered carefully. You may simply want to say that he or she is vulnerable and under the care of a doctor makes sense. Add a story about your loved one and additional pictures that are compelling and easy for others to relate to. In "serious cases" of missing children, in which law enforcement has a reason to believe the child has been abducted or is in imminent danger, an Amber Alert may be issued, Fox said.
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Amber Alerts were designed "especially for those kids who are perceived to be in immediate danger," but there is specific criteria for the level of danger the case must meet to warrant the alert, Jeanis said. For example, a runaway child would not qualify for an Amber Alert, Jeanis said. The reason for the selectivity, in part, is to not desensitize the public. Law enforcement wants the public to be "alert and aware" when a message is sent out, and too many could cause people to ignore it, Jeanis said.
Once the subject is confirmed to be missing, investigators spring into action, setting up command posts, assigning agents to work the leads and organizing all of the information the investigation gathered, Gomez said. For the families, not knowing what happened to their loved one is the "worst thing," and investigators have that in the forefront of their minds as they search for the person, Jeanis said.
Getting the word out to the public that someone is missing is "integral" to closing the case, Jeanis said. Jeanis and Fox worked together on a project to determine how social media, traditional media and law enforcement's techniques could "help to bring missing persons home safely, sooner," Fox said.
The study took all of the missing persons cases reported to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database and studied factors such as how many media reports were written about each person, how many words were written about each person and how long it took to find them -- alive or dead -- or if they were never found. The ongoing study has not yet been published, Fox said. Women received nearly 12 times more media coverage, on average, than male victims, while white victims received nearly three times as much total media attention than minority victims, as well as higher word counts within articles, Fox said.
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White, young, female victims -- often college co-eds or mothers -- "definitely get the most amount of attention," Fox said. In addition, the age of the victim correlated inversely with the word count within a story, with each additional year of age corresponding to a 4. Social media has become a "huge asset to safely recovering people," purely due to the ease of spreading the message, Fox said. Fox used the example of Mollie Tibbetts, the Iowa college student who went missing in July and was found about a month later in a farm field.
Find Missing Person Quest
While people pay attention when seeing stories of missing persons on broadcast news, it "brings it a little closer to home" when they see someone they know or trust talking about it on Facebook or Twitter, Fox said. Gomez said the social media awareness "energizes the public to help the family and law enforcement," which generates leads. Fox and Jeanis also work with law enforcement to make sure they understand that posting information on missing persons on their social media accounts increases the odds that they'll be able to find them sooner.
Before social media, law enforcement would release BOLOs -- or "be on the lookout" notices -- that would be posted to various neighborhoods, Gomez said. It is now the standard practice for those BOLOs to be posted to the law enforcement agency's social media accounts, Gomez said. The sooner an announcement is made, the more likely the person will be safely recovered, Fox said. It's not necessary to wait 24 to 48 hours before filing a report, according to Findlaw. When filing the report, give law enforcement a detailed description of the subject's physical appearance such as his or her height, weight and age, as well as any identifying markers such as a tattoo or birth mark.
Be sure to include clear photos of the missing person. In addition, provide law enforcement with any details that may have contributed to the person's disappearance, such as whether they are mentally impaired or may have witnessed a crime.
The Difference Between a "Missing Person" and "Locating a Person"
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