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Missing Persons Unit · Frequently Asked Questions

How long am I required to wait to report my child missing?

There is no waiting period. The National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990, Title XXXVII, Section 3702 - State Requirements, states:

"Each State reporting under the provisions of this Act shall ensure that no law enforcement agency with the State establishes or maintains any policy that requires the observance of any waiting period before accepting a missing child or unidentified person report."

What do I do if local law enforcement won't take a report (or enter my child into NCIC)?

Contact the Officer that took the initial report to inquire why the report has not been entered. Listen to what the officer advises you as there may be other issues involved. This agency may not be the agency of jurisdiction where the child was at the time he/she became missing. You may not be the custodial parent. You may not have a valid custody document and/or parenting plan. If you have custody documents you need to present them to the officer. If you called the agency, you may have spoken with a communications officer who took a missing report and a law enforcement officer may or may not have been assigned to your case. You may contact the Missing Persons Unit for additional assistance, 1-800-543-5678.

Why am I not getting assistance in looking for my runaway child?

In Washington State, as in many states, it is not against the law to run away. Many parents are left to search on their own, create and distribute posters, and contact friends and relatives. You may contact the Missing Children Clearinghouse for additional assistance to electronically distribute posters to law enforcement, 1-800-543-5678.

Why would Law Enforcement not activate an Amber Alert for my missing child?

Your missing child case may not have met all of the criteria required to activate an Amber Alert. At any given time in our state, there are approximately 1,700 missing children. If the Amber Alert was activated for all of these children the public would become desensitized to it, and the system would be misused.

Who is responsible to activate an Amber Alert?

It is the responsibility of the investigating law enforcement agency to activate their local and statewide Amber Alert systems. The statewide system can be activated/de-activated.


Missing Persons Unit
Missing & Unidentified Persons Unit

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