Investigating Missing Children Cases : A Guide for First Responders and Investigators book cover
1st Edition

Investigating Missing Children Cases
A Guide for First Responders and Investigators

ISBN 9781439860632
Published September 18, 2012 by Routledge
314 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Time is an abducted child’s worst enemy. Seventy-four percent of abducted children who are murdered are killed within three hours of their abduction. It takes, on the average, two hours for a parent to report a child missing. This gives responders only one hour to get an investigation up and running in an attempt to locate and recover the child alive. Investigating Missing Children Cases: A Guide for First Responders and Investigators provides a solid training guide on missing children investigative techniques, enabling law enforcement professionals to respond confidently with a plan of action that offers the best possible chance for a positive outcome.

The book provides law enforcement agencies with the most current information available to guide them through a missing or runaway child dispatch. It is designed to help investigators respond quickly, expeditiously evaluate the situation, conduct an Endangerment Risk Assessment (ERA) of the child, and commence a thorough, organized investigation—starting from the moment the police are contacted. By following the guidelines in this book, those tasked with these cases can make the best possible decisions in the shortest amount of time.

The protocols and methodologies presented are based on personal police experience and statistical evidence from research and studies gathered from thousands of runaway and missing children cases. Details on those studies and their findings are provided in the appendix.

Time is of the essence in missing children cases. Make every second count.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Background
Missing Children Cases: The Seen and the Unseen
Law Enforcement Attitude and Missing Children
Society, Social Problems, Missing Children, and Law Enforcement
How Will This Book Assist You?
A Word on Liability
The Problem
Is It Perception or Is It Misperception?
Criticisms of Law Enforcement’s Actions
Give Them a Break
The Victim and the Offender
The Victim
Developmental Perspective Theory
Parents, Family Members, Friends, and Communities as Victims
Types of Family Reactions to Missing Children or Abductions
The Liaison
The Community
The Offender
Federal and State Statutes: Runaway and Missing Children
Know the Law
Federal Statutes
Federal Criminal and Civil Laws Regarding Missing and Abducted Children
State Statues
Missing Children Abduction Motives, Lures, and Tactics
Motives for Abducting Children
Child Abductor’s Lures
Child Abductor Tactics
Response and Initial Interview
Initial Interview
Missing Children Crime Scenes and Neighborhood Canvass
The Importance of Immediately Identifying Crime Scenes of Missing Children
Neighborhood Canvassing and Searching
Missing Children Endangerment Risk Assessment (ERA)
Getting the Information Out
Overview of Law Enforcement Communications Systems and Missing Children
Incident Command Center and Civilian Volunteers
Incident Command Center
Civilian Volunteers
Long-Term and Cold Cases
Team Approach
The Response
False Police Reports
Runaways and Thrownaways
First Responder/Investigator: Runaways (RAs)/Thrownaways (TAs)
Runaways or Thrownaways Located and Returned
A Story of a Runaway
Breaking the Cycle of a Runaway/Thrownaway
Characteristics and Traits of Runaways and Thrownaway Children
Missing Benign Episode (MBE)
Missing Involuntary, Lost, or Injured (MILI)
Family Child Abduction (FCA)
The Law
The Victim (the Abducted Child)
Law Enforcement’s Attitude
International Family Child Abduction (IFCA)
Inadequate Response Opinions from the Left-Behind Parent
Local and State Police Agency Obstacles and IFCA
Why the FBI and NCMEC?
Low Priority
The Victim
The Abductor
Nonfamily Child Abduction (NFCA)
A Parent’s Worst Fear
What Is Known About NFCA?
Primary Nonfamily Child Abduction Motives,
Difference between Nonfamily Child Abductions and
Stereotypical Nonfamily Child Abductions
Stereotypical Nonfamily Child Abduction (SNFCA)
News Media
Department Resources
Primary Stereotypical Nonfamily Child Abduction Motives
Infant Abduction (IA)
Abductor’s Four Stages of IA
IAs in a Hospital Setting
Most Common Characteristics of IAs in Hospital Settings
IA in a Home Setting and Other Places
Most Common Characteristics of IAs in Home Settings or Other Places
Most Common Characteristics of an IA Victim
Most Common Characteristics of an IA Abductor
Investigative Considerations
Internet Child Abduction (ICA)
Most Common Characteristics of an ICA Victim
Most Common Characteristics of an ICA Offender
Most Common Tactics of an ICA Offender:
Investigation Considerations
Human Sex Trafficking
Human Sex Trafficking
The Scope
The Operation
Law Enforcement Response and Investigation
Patrol Officers/First Responders/Investigators
Detectives or Investigators
Other Considerations
Missing Children Resources
Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organization (AMECIO)
Black and Missing Foundation
Child Quest International
Child Find of America, Inc.
Child Lures Prevention
Crimes against Children Program (FBI)
Federal Resources on Missing and Exploited Children: A Directory for Law Enforcement and Other Public and Private Agencies
Fox Valley Technical College, Criminal Justice Division Child Protection Training Center
Guide for Implementing or Enhancing Endangered Missing Advisory
International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
Missing Children Clearinghouse Contact Information
Missing Persons: Volunteers Supporting Law Enforcement
Nation’s Missing Children Organization (NMCO)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
National Runaway Switchboard
Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth Home
Polly Klaas® Foundation
Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
A: Investigating Missing Children Timeline Guide Considerations
B: Long-Term and Cold Case Checklist
C: LOCATER Checklist
D: AMBER Alert Checklist
E: Endangerment Risk Assessment (ERA) Checklist
F: Missing Children Characteristics, Traits, and Probabilities
G: Runaway/Thrownaway Characteristics and Traits
H: Missing Benign Episode Characteristics and Traits
I: Missing Involuntary, Lost, or Injured Children Characteristics and Traits
J: Family Child Abductions Characteristics and Traits
K: Characteristics and Traits of International Family Child Abduction
L: Nonfamily Child Abduction Characteristics and Traits
M: Stranger Nonfamily Child Abduction Characteristics and Traits
N: Infant Abduction Characteristics and Traits
O: INTERNET Child Abduction Characteristics and Traits
P: Abduction/Missing Child Report Summary Worksheet
Q: Missing Child Neighborhood Canvass Questionnaire
R: Volunteer Background Check Form
S: Reunification Checklist
T: Missing Child Assessment Checklist
U: Research and Studies

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Donald F. Sprague is a 24-year veteran of law enforcement. He retired in June 1996 as a lieutenant from the Saginaw, Michigan Police Department. He has been a Michigan state certified police instructor in many disciplines including police patrol techniques, police emergency vehicle operation, and domestic violence. He served on the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST) task force that produced the Law Enforcement Driver Training Reference Guide 2000 and the Michigan State Domestic Violence task force that produced Domestic Violence Police Response. A Project ALERT member for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), he volunteers his time reviewing cold cases of missing children and has lectured for NCMEC on child safety. He and his wife, Mary, formed the Servants & Watchmen Ministry, to educate places of worship on church security, and Michigan Child Safety Advocates, to educate parents and children on child safety and missing and exploited children.

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