Missing Persons Reporting Process

Julie Humphreys, Communications Manager, 509.625.5868

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 at 2:02 p.m.

SPD streamlines process to report missing persons

Each year SPD receives more than a thousand calls of missing persons. The person who is missing may be a juvenile runaway, someone with a medical condition like dementia or autism, or a person who hasn’t shown up for work in a few days.  Having a loved one go missing can be stressful and emotionally exhausting.  However, providing clear, consistent information to the appropriate entity can make a big difference in locating the person you are concerned about and/or in finding a successful resolution to your case.

SPD has put together a downloadable Missing Persons Checklist for you to fill out BEFORE you call Crime Check. https://static.spokanecity.org/documents/police/investigations/missing-person-cases/spd-missing-persons-checklist.pdf. It can help you keep track of details about a missing person and asks you to explain what out of the ordinary event or situation indicates someone may in fact be missing or in danger. It is incumbent on the person making the report to articulate the level of endangerment someone may be facing based on credible information they have ascertained.

Not all circumstances where someone is gone meet the requirement for a missing person report. For instance, parents of adult children often call police after being out of touch with their children. A law enforcement missing person report is appropriate in situations where information indicates a person is in danger, but not necessarily when an adult chooses to sever communication with family. While still your child, those age 18 and older are legally adults and have a right to make life decisions for themselves. There are resources outside of law enforcement to help you including mental health/crisis resources and local shelters – they are also listed on the downloadable Missing Persons Checklist.

Parents of juvenile runaways should make continued efforts to locate their children and attempt to bring them home. If parents locate their missing child and are met with resistance in retrieving them, law enforcement may be contacted for assistance. Additionally, it’s imperative that parents of runaways be in contact with their child’s school. There are many resources available specific to juveniles, such as Juvenile Court Services that parents/relatives of runaways may find helpful.

To make a missing person report, first fill out the checklist, then call Crime Check at 509-456-2233. A call taker will determine if your case meets the criteria for a missing person report to be taken. The information provided will be reviewed by the Spokane Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit. Cases are triaged based on the information available and then the appropriate strategy/resources are utilized.

This process does not apply to situations where a person is missing due to obvious criminality. Reports of abductions/kidnappings should be reported to 911 immediately.

For more on SPD’s Missing Person Cases, see https://my.spokanecity.org/police/investigations/missing-person-cases/.  

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Media Relations Contact

Julie Humphreys