Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Missing Children - Will Official Indifference Ever End?

No, I still haven't gotten over the unprofessional indifference and professional incompetence three of our local law enforcement agencies showed when Carissa Benway's mother tried in vain to report her missing in July 2000. But the subsequent recovery of Carissa's skeletal remains did allow our state legislature to create yet another law named after yet another dead child.

Our local agencies can take some solace from the information uncovered and reported by Thomas Hargrove in a May 10, 2005, Scripps Howard News Service article headlined Missing-children cases fumbled by police nationwide. Our local agencies were no more and no less indifferent than many other law enforcement agencies across the country. The third paragraph from Hargrove's article reads: "A first-of-its-kind study of computer files at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conducted by Scripps Howard News Service has found that dozens of police departments across the nation failed to report at least 4,498 runaway, lost and abducted children in apparent violation of the National Child Search Assistance Act passed by Congress in 1990."

Hargrove's article also identifies some law enforcement agencies that have consistently been complying with the law and handling missing children cases properly, thus dismissing out of hand the usual weak agency excuses of "We don't have the manpower to work runaways," or "Wait a while and maybe your kid will come home."

I salute those agencies that take and make the time to work missing person cases aggressively and effectively. For those agencies that don't, I'd ask, "Why is it that you can find the resources to work the case after it becomes a homicide, yet you feel no obligation to devote the resources to prevent the homicide?" I wish that in addition writing a three-part, award-winning series on the high quality of the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department homicide investigation in the Carissa Benway murder, our regional newspaper, The Spokesman Review, had written an equally exhaustive article on how the same sheriff's department failed to act when it had an opportunity to prevent her death.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, your comments are perceptive and thought provoking.

9:13 AM, May 13, 2005  

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