D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced an update this week of her administration’s efforts in implementing the six steps established in March to protect the District’s youth.
Child and Family Services Agency Director Brenda Donald and Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants Director Michelle Garcia joined Bowser for the May 24 announcement.
“One missing young person is one too many,” Bowser said. “We must break the cycle of teens leaving home, and that means offering families and young people more wraparound services and more support. Through these six initiatives, we are ensuring that not only are we locating our young people when they are reported missing, but also putting systems and programs in place to support their growth and development going forward.”
The six implementations include:
• An increase in the number of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers assigned to the Children and Youth Services Division tasked with locating youth reported missing. To date, the police department has a total of 15 detectives and officers dedicated to locating and serving missing youth and their families.
• Expanding the MPD Missing Persons webpage and social media messaging to include case catalog with broader information: the previous MPD Missing Persons website included a tally of cases and very general information on each open case. The updated site provides easily navigable information about missing persons across the District, including resources for families and teens, easy to download missing alert flyers, missing person statistics, and helpful resources for families who need to report a loved one missing.
• Establishing the Missing Persons Evaluation and Reconnection Resources Collaborative: the Child and Family Services Agency, the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, and identified community-based organizations assisted MPD with outlining a comprehensive evaluation for youth who are found or return home. The evaluation will assess the circumstances for their departure and help agencies provide additional resources and services to support the health and well-being of the child and the family.
Meanwhile, MPD has a General Order that governs the process for dealing with persons reported missing. The order classifies anyone under the age of 15 or over the age of 65 as being a “critical missing person.” There is no minimum time required for MPD to file a missing person report, contrary to popular belief that a person must be missing at least 24 hours before they can be designated as missing.
According to MPD, there is no evidence to suggest the recent missing person cases are connected to human trafficking. However, these crimes are generally underreported and MPD offers outreach and officer training on the issue. More than 80 percent of MPD officers have taken the course and the training is ongoing.
To find the most recent data on missing person cases in the city, go to missing.dc.gov.