Missing person protocol: Steps it takes to find the missing
NORTH MISSISSIPPI (WCBI) – Every hour and day matters in a law enforcement investigation.
“You know, time is of the essence,” said Chickasaw County Sheriff James Myers.
A person does not have to be missing for two or three days before law enforcement can start investigating.
Myers said the laws on TV don’t abide by the same rules of reality.
“You know a lot of times, people watch TV and they’ll see like in a big city -let’s just say a real large metropolitan city- and they’ll go to report a person missing and they’ll tell them ‘look you got to wait 48 hours or 72 hours.’ You know, that’s TV,” said Myers.
Myers said the sooner you report a person missing, the higher the chances are of that person being found.
“The first thing to do automatically is contact your local law enforcement, whether it be the police department or the sheriff’s department,” said Myers.
The state of Mississippi has a two-tier alert system that allows law enforcement agencies can issue: Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts.
Amber Alerts are only for missing minors who meet certain criteria.
“It has to be an abduction. And that’s not a parent getting mad in a divorce and taking a child. They don’t meet the criteria unless there is a threat of violence but then it will,” said Myers.
Silver alerts are only for adults who have a medical condition that may impair their judgment.
There are a lot of people who don’t meet either of those requirements and fall through the cracks.
“But just a missing person or a runaway, notify us as soon as possible,” said Myers.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, about 600,000 people go missing a year.
1% of those victims are never found.
“90% of the time, there’s no problems but the sooner we can start putting things on like I say the bank account so we’ll know if a debit card’s been used. If we can contact the U.S. Marshall service and get some help with tracking a cell phone, it helps us tremendously.”