VI. Missing Person Investigative Guidelines and Procedures:
A. Officerís Initial Contact
1. Interview the reporting person. If more than one reporting person is present,interviews should be conducted separately. Verify that the person is, in fact,missing. Determine if this may be a high risk missing person and if there is a potential crime scene area and or potential witnesses.
2. If a child is involved, verify custody status. Examine court orders regarding current custody matters, if applicable. If criteria are met for an AMBER plan activation, the Missing Persons and Child Exploitation Unit must be contacted.
3. Identify the circumstances of the disappearance. Determine when, where, and by whom the missing person was last seen. Interview the individual(s) who had last contact with the missing person. Develop a list of known family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and associates for interviews.
4. If a child is involved, identify a zone of safety commensurate with their age and developmental stage. If the child was out of this safety zone, ascertain potential reasons.
5. Obtain a detailed description of the missing person, including as many current photos as possible. If known acquaintances, potential abductors,vehicles, or persons of interest are involved, obtain detailed descriptions as necessary.
6. Relay detailed descriptive information necessary for the investigation to the dispatch center for broadcast to all relative allied law enforcement entities.
7. Ensure that the dispatch center is entering the missing person into NJLETS and NCIC. Ensure available photo(s) are relayed to the dispatch center for the creation of a MCAS/TRAK bulletin. Once the bulletin has been created, distribute throughout required areas and to necessary law enforcement agencies and media outlets.
8. Request additional personnel and resources if circumstances require.
9. Consideration should be given to immediately dispatching investigative and supervisory assistance to the scene and to implement the Incident Command System. The Missing Persons and Child Exploitation Unit may be contactedto provide investigative guidance and resources.
10. Thoroughly search the immediate and surrounding area in a logical and systematic manner, taking consideration of the particulars related to the missing person or missing child. Consider using a standardized checklist, which should include the last known location of the missing person and likely locations where the person may have gone. Canvass the area for potential witnesses and individuals with knowledge of the missing person. Interviewas necessary.
11. Treat the area as a potential crime scene.
12. Ensure that everyone at the scene is identified and interviewed separately and properly record the information. Note name, address, and phone numbers of each person. Determine relationship to the missing person and ask where they believe the missing person may be. Obtain information of potential associates to aid in future investigation.
13. Utilize a crime scene entry/exit log, when necessary.
14. Request voluntary assistance from the family or reporting party in obtaining items of investigatory value belonging to the missing person. Obtain consent to search, when applicable. Consider attempting to obtain personal items thatcontain the missing personís scent for utilization of search dogs. Place scent articles in a clean, paper bag. Attempt to obtain personal electronic devices(cell phones or cell phone numbers for tracking purposes, computers for online resources such as screen names or email sources, digital cameras,electronic storage devices, etc.). Gather as many documents as possible to assist with follow-up investigation. Banking records, mail, cell phone records, etc. should be collected, when possible. Utilize consent forms or court orders, as necessary.
15. When applicable, obtain items that would likely contain the missing personís DNA; such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, or clothing. Seal and protect the scene, when necessary, for potential subsequent search efforts by qualified crime scene technicians.
16. Determine if any of the missing personís personal items are known to be missing from the area/scene. 17. Maintain scene integrity until relieved by investigative or supervisory personnel. Thoroughly debrief relieving personnel, advising of all investigative steps taken to point and noted documentation.
B. Investigating Officer/Detective
1. Obtain briefing from first responding officer and other on-scene personnel.
2. Verify the accuracy of all descriptive information and other details developed during the preliminary investigation. Ensure the missing person has been entered into all appropriate databases (NCIC, NJLETS, MCAS / TRAK).
3. Obtain a brief, recent history of family dynamics or relationship dynamicswhich apply to the missing person.
4. Correct and investigate the reasons for conflicting information offered by witnesses and other involved individuals.
5. Review and evaluate all available information and evidence requested.
6. Develop an investigational plan.
7. Determine what additional resources and specialized services are required.
8. Contact county prosecutorís office for required court ordered information to aid in investigation, when necessary.
9. Contact the Missing Persons and Child Exploitation Unit for assistance and resources, when necessary.
10. Execute investigative follow-up plan.
C. Supervising Officer
1. Conduct a debriefing of the first responding officer, investigators, and other agency personnel at the scene. Obtain pertinent written reports.
2. Determine if additional personnel are needed to assist in the investigation.
3. Ensure that all required resources, equipment, and assistance necessary to conduct an efficient investigation have been requested and expedite their availability.
4. Establish a command post, when necessary.
5. Ensure coordination and cooperation among all involved law enforcement agencies in the investigation and search effort.
6. Ensure that all required notifications are made.
7. Ensure that all policies and procedures are in compliance.
8. Conduct a criminal history check on any principal suspects and participants in the investigation.
9. Be available to make any decisions or determinations as they develop.
10. Utilize media outlets to assist in search efforts, when necessary, throughout the duration of the case.
11. Contact the Missing Persons and Child Exploitation Unit for assistance and resources, when necessary.
VII. Mentally Impaired Persons:
A. If the adult is developmentally disabled or emotionally disturbed, they may have difficulty communicating with others about their needs, their identity, or their address. The disability may place the adult in danger of harm. Mentally impaired may also include adults suffering from Alzheimerís.
1. When a child is developmentally disabled or emotionally disturbed, they may also have difficulty communicating with others about their needs, their identity, or their address. A mentally impaired child may be in danger of exploitation or other harm.
2. If the person is not located during the current shift all available information shall be given to the relieving shift until the person is found.
B Law enforcement agencies and officers in the state shall be guided by the Attorney Generalís Law Enforcement Directive 2005-3 and training material, which
establishes a statewide policy on the Safe Return Program to recover lost individuals with Alzheimerís disease and related disorders.
1. It is particularly important to find a person with Alzheimerís disease within the first 24 hours to ensure safety and survival. The Safe Return Program has
been designed to assist both the care giver of persons with Alzheimerís disease or a related dementia disorder, and law enforcement officials with the
safe return of these persons. When a memory-impaired person wanders away from home or an institution, law enforcement officials may utilize an 800
number to call the safe return operator, who will work with the missing personís care giver and police to gather critical information.
a. The program includes a nationwide participant registry that contains the full name of the registrant, a photograph, identifying characteristics, medical information, and emergency contact information which enables the police officer to easily identify a person with Alzheimerís disease.
b. When calling the programís crisis number at 800-883-1180, a safe return clinician will contact the registrantís care giver.
c. Safe Return identification provides the first name of a person bearing this ID, indicates that they have a memory impairment, and gives the 24-hour toll-free number for the Alzheimerís Safe Return Program.
d. The Safe Return Program can also be used by police to send an alert to area agencies, such as shelters or hospitals, that a person with Alzheimerís disease is missing. This may help recover a person with Alzheimerís disease faster.
2. Officers receiving a report of a missing person who is believed to have Alzheimerís disease or a related disorder, shall immediately contact the Safe Return Hotline at 800-883-1180 and a photograph and/or description, if available, should be disseminated to all officers working the current shift.
3. Officers searching for a person with Alzheimerís disease may refer to Annex A of this protocol to assist with recognizing someone with Alzheimerís disease.
4. When approaching a person believed to have Alzheimerís disease, ask for identifying information. Persons who are registered with the Safe Return Program shall have a bracelet, necklace, lapel pin, key chain, or label inside their clothing collar.
VIII. Long Term Missing Investigative Guidelines and Procedures:
A. If the person identified in the missing person report remains missing for 30 days and the additional information and materials specified below have not been received, the
lead law enforcement agency shall attempt to obtain:
1. DNA samples from family members and, if possible, from the missing person along with any needed documentation, including any consent forms, required for the use of state or federal DNA databases
2. Dental information and x-rays, as well as an authorization to release dental or skeletal x-rays of the missing person. When dental records are obtained, the resulting profile will be coded and entered into NCIC by modification of the existing entry
3. Any additional photographs of the missing person that may aid the investigation or an identification. The lead law enforcement agency shall not be required to obtain written authorization before it releases publicly any photograph that would aid in the investigation or identification of the missing person
4. When fingerprints are obtained, the resulting profile will be coded and entered into NCIC by modification of the existing entry
B. Mechanics for Submission of DNA Samples
1. If the missing person investigation remains active after thirty (30) days, the lead law enforcement agency shall attempt to secure personal articles of the missing person (i.e., toothbrush, hairbrush, etc.) that may be beneficial in obtaining a DNA profile of the missing person. Once the article(s) has been properly documented, officers shall utilize the Personal / Direct Reference Sample Evidence Registration Form and send the sample to the National Missing Persons Program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, in accordance with issued guidelines.
2. The lead law enforcement agency shall contact the reporting party or appropriate biological family member(s) to ascertain if they are willing to provide a reference DNA sample for comparison purposes in the National Missing Persons Program federal database (CODIS MP) maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Officers shall notify the reporting person or family member(s) that all such DNA samples are provided on a voluntary basis and shall be used solely to help locate or identify the missing person and shall not be used for any other purpose.
3. Officers shall utilize the Family Reference Sample Collection Kit to obtain DNA samples. Officers shall strictly adhere to the instructions as put forth in the collection kit. Kits may be obtained by contacting the county liaison officer or the NJSP Missing Persons and Child Exploitation Unit, Division Headquarters, at 609-882-2000, extension 2894.
4. Upon completion of obtaining the DNA sample(s), officers shall forward the kit to the National Missing Persons Program, University of North Texas Health Science Center, as directed in the kit instruction form. Strict attention shall be adhered to in the transmittal of the Fax Back Sample Tracking Form prior to the mailing of the kit.
5. In addition to faxing the form to the National Missing Persons Program, officers shall fax the form to the Missing Persons & Child Exploitation Unit, Division Headquarters, at 609-882-2719, for case tracking purposes.
6. Upon completion of the DNA sample submission process, the lead law enforcement agency shall modify the existing NCIC missing person/unidentified person entry to include that a DNA sample pertaining to the investigation is available for comparison. Location of the sample and corresponding CODIS MP identification number should be included in this modified entry.
7. Reference Sample Priority Sequence:
a. Personal Item(s) From Missing Person (Direct Reference Sample Evidence Registration Form)
(4) Any item capable of furnishing a DNA profile
b. Nuclear family members of missing person (Family Reference Sample Collection Kit)
(1) Biological brother or sister of missing person
(2) Biological parents of missing person
(3) Biological children of missing person
c. Maternal biological relatives of missing person (Family Reference Sample Collection Kit)
(1) Aunts / uncles of missing person (Maternal side only)
(2) Cousins (Maternal side only)
(3) Half-sisters / half-brothers (Maternal side only)
C. Pertinent information relating to the long term missing person shall be entered into the Violent Crimes Apprehension Program (VICAP) database.
IX. Unidentified Deceased Investigative Guidelines:
A. After performing any death scene investigation, under current operating guidelines within the jurisdiction of the event, as deemed appropriate under the circumstances
by the lead law enforcement agency, the official with custody of the human remains shall ensure that the human remains are delivered to the appropriate state or county
B. Any state or county medical examiner with custody of human remains that are not identified within 24 hours of discovery shall promptly notify the Missing Persons and
Child Exploitation Unit of the location of those remains.
C. If the medical examiner with custody of the remains cannot determine whether or not the recovered remains are human, the medical examiner shall notify the Missing
Persons and Child Exploitation Unit.
D. The appropriate state or county medical examiner shall attempt to promptly identify human remains. These actions may include, but are not limited to, obtaining:
1. Photographs of the human remains
2. Dental or skeletal X-rays
3. Photographs of items found with the human remains
4. Fingerprints from the remains, when possible
5. Samples of tissue suitable for DNA typing, if possible
6. Samples of whole bone or hair suitable for DNA typing
7. Any other information that may support identification efforts
E. Medical examiners, or any other person, shall not dispose of, or engage in actions that will materially affect the unidentified human remains before the appropriate
medical examiner obtains:
1. Samples suitable for DNA identification archiving
2. Photographs of the unidentified human remains
3. All other appropriate steps for identification have been exhausted
F. Unidentified human remains shall not be cremated.
G. The appropriate state or county medical examiner shall make reasonable efforts to obtain prompt DNA analysis of biological samples if the human remains have not
been identified by other means within 30 days.
H. The appropriate medical examiner shall seek support from appropriate state and federal agencies to assist in the identification of unidentified human remains. Such
assistance may include, but not be limited to, available mitochondrial or nuclear DNA testing, federal grants for DNA testing, or federal grants for crime laboratory
or medical examiner office improvement.
I. The appropriate medical examiner with custody of the human remains shall seek support from appropriate federal and state agency representatives to have information
promptly entered in federal and state databases by those representatives that can aid in the identification of the human remains. Information shall be entered into federal
databases as follows:
1. Data relevant for the NCIC Unidentified Deceased/NJLETS Unidentified Deceased (File 11) entries will be entered by the lead law enforcement agency
2. DNA profiles and information shall be entered into the National DNA Index System (NDIS/CODIS/CODIS MP) within five business days after the completion of the DNA analysis
3. Information sought by the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) database as soon as practicable