If someone goes missing in Arizona, the event should be reported to the police, and thousands of reports of missing persons are made every year. Law enforcement agencies, including municipal police departments, help a person file the report, and no personal relationship with the missing person is required. After that, the individual can also report the missing person to other organizations, including federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and online sites focusing on missing persons in Arizona.
Filing a Missing Person Report
When someone appears to be missing, it's easy to panic, but the first calls to make should be to family members and friends to try to locate the person. When it becomes clear that the person is missing, the next people to be contacted are the local police.
If the missing person is a young child missing from the front yard or someone else who is vulnerable and may be in danger, skip the calls to friends and call the police emergency number immediately. If appropriate, they can issue an Amber Alert to notify the community about the missing child.
If it is not an emergency, call or visit the nearest police department and explain the circumstances. Don't hide any details that might establish urgency or add any details to make it seem more urgent. The best approach is to remain calm and present facts.
Describing the Circumstances
It's not easy to stay calm when a person has gone missing, but Arizona law enforcement cannot take action before they have the facts in front of them. Stay calm and report the circumstances of the disappearance. Tell the police when and where the person was last seen, whom they were seen with, and where they were going. Offer a detailed description of the person, including height, weight, hair color and clothing, as well as any physical features that might make them stand out.
Tattoos, scars and odd or unusual hair color or hairstyles are helpful. In this case, a picture is worth one thousand words, so offer several photos of the missing person. Law enforcement may use them in their missing person notice.
Be prepared to answer any questions that the police ask, even if they do not seem relevant or important. Full cooperation is the best course of action. Names and addresses of significant others, boyfriends or girlfriends, are often points of inquiry. If the person missing is a young adult, law enforcement might ask about alcohol or drug use, as well as any prior history of running away. Cell phone numbers and social media accounts can be helpful in tracing the missing person as well.
Report Missing Minors to the NCIC
If the missing person is a minor, their disappearance should also be reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The NCIC aggregates information about missing children and makes it available to law enforcement agents who search for them. The Arizona police often get the missing child’s name into the NCIC database themselves, but the parents can also contact the NCIC directly at 800-843-5678.
Reporting Runaway Children
Arizona law enforcement differentiates between children who run away and those who are missing. While the family of a runaway child sees that child as missing, they are missing because they don't want to be found. On the other hand, missing people – those whose disappearance remains unexplained – are the main charge of Missing Persons Units in municipal law enforcement offices.
The parents or guardians of a child are primarily responsible for locating a runaway, and their active and aggressive participation is an integral part of the search. Parents or guardians are advised to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a nonprofit organization that helps parents locate runaways and missing children. The NCMEC assists parents in many ways, including creating and distributing flyers at no cost. Provide the police report number when you call.
Arizona police also assist parents trying to find their missing kids. They will enter the child's name and information into a national database for juveniles. That means that if any police officer in the country finds a child and runs it through the database, they will learn of the runaway status and contact the child's parents. While a child is missing, the parent or guardian must check in with the investigator every 30 days to affirm that the child has not returned.
Report Missing Persons to the FBI
While the first call should be made to the local law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also involved in many missing person cases, especially when there are suspicious circumstances or evidence of criminality or foul play.
A missing person report to the FBI is made in the same way as the Arizona police report. The person making the report calls the agency and provides information about the missing person and the circumstances of their disappearance. Locate the closest FBI field office online at the state department website for child abductions.
Notify Arizona Missing Report
The Arizona Missing Report is a website that lists missing persons in Arizona. It has similar pages dedicated to missing persons in other states across the United States and in countries around the world. The Missing Report was founded to provide organized and complete information about people reported missing. They work to publicize the person's disappearance even if the police have yet to begin searching.
The more people that know about a missing person, the more likely it is that someone will spot them. Members of the public can share reports of missing people with the Missing Report. They publish this information on social media as well as on their website.
- Try to find the person on your own as well. While you can always talk to the police, that doesn't limit your ability to find the person yourself. Call local hospitals, jails, family, friends or anyone else who might know the location of the missing person. You can do this before or after you contact the police.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.