Madison Police stress reporting missing children immediately if they become missing
MADISON – In a little over a week, the Madison Police sent out alerts through social media for four missing juveniles. Fortunately, all were quickly found. The latest one, a runaway, was located yesterday.
“Children are our greatest blessing and we all hold them dear,” said MPD Community Relations Officer Teresa Taylor-Duncan. “When one is lost or goes missing, we all join together to help get them back home safely.”
She said it is important for parents or guardians to call 911 immediately when a child is lost.
“Officers will come to your location and begin a methodical investigation,” Officer Taylor Duncan said. “We ask that you remain in the location where you believe they were lost whether it is your home or a store. Have current photographs and identifying information readily accessible. Try to remember what they were wearing including color and style of clothing.”
Officers will ask questions such as has the child ever run away, what is your custody situation, where does the child go to school, church, and hang out. “They will want to know their friends and where those friends live. If relatives live close, they will also want that information.
Responding officers will search your home and property,” said Officer Taylor-Duncan. “Regardless of whether or not you have searched, we will search again. Countless times, children are located in their homes asleep in closets, under beds, or other little known hiding areas. Officers will speak with your neighbors, checking their yards and enclosed areas.”
She said several myths keep popping up when children are suspected to be missing. “There is no specific time frame a child must be missing before a report is made,” Officer Taylor-Duncan added. “In fact, the earlier the report is made, the better the chance of locating the child is. Just because the child has a history of running away, does not mean law enforcement will not take a report. Every child reported missing opens an investigation.”
Not all children who are reported missing meet the threshold for issuing an Amber alert. In fact, there are multiple levels of missing persons reports all determined by different criteria.
The Missing Person Post is used by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to list children on their website only when the child does not meet the criteria for Emergency Missing Child Alert or Amber Alert.
The Emergency Missing Child Alert is used when law enforcement believes a child under the age of 17 is missing, not abducted, and in danger due to their age or physical condition, there is sufficient information available to locate the child including a photograph, and the child has been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as missing and endangered.
Amber Alerts are only issued if a child under 17 is missing and in danger of serious bodily injury or death, no other explanation for the child to be missing is found, and there is sufficient information available to help locate the child, suspect, or vehicle.
Officer Taylor-Duncan said the Madison Police Department uses Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter, Instagram, and Nixle so the public may help locate children who have run away or become lost. “These tools are used in the preliminary stages of the investigation prior to determining which level of official notification is appropriate,” she said.
If citizens feel they have pertinent information, MPD asks they call the non-emergency number at 256-722-7190. “We ask that you refrain from speculation or sharing of non-verified information on social media as this merely muddies the water for investigators,” added Taylor-Duncan.
To safeguard your children, MPD recommends the following:
Pick up a home identification kit at the Madison Police Department. Complete the fingerprint, hair sample, dental history, photograph, and identification info and store it in a safe, readily accessible location.
Know your child’s friends and how to contact them.
Use apps such as Life360, Verizon Family Locator, GPSWOX Family Locator, and Sprint FamilyWall.