Audit shows error with Cleveland’s missing persons records

An audit of Cleveland, Ohio’s missing persons records showed an error rate of 43 percent.  In 2016, the error rate was 51 percent and in 2015 it was 50 percent.

Although the rate now is below 50 percent this year, it still seems way to high for a statistic that is so important to keep track of.

The types of error that were found show no date of birth, information entered long after the report was filed (up to two years) and no dental records.  There were other deficiencies that have not been stated by the highway patrol that did the audit.

The Fox I-Team reports they had many questions for the Cleveland Police Department, but they would not respond to the media. They did release a statement that said they would be doing training and hiring more staff.

To many, especially those with a missing family member, it is very hard to understand why things are not improving quickly and more successfully.  Evidently, the state is not understanding it either and said they will take action to punish the city because of the errors.

I’m glad to see the state is trying to do something about it, but I can’t help but be critical of the Cleveland police department that they have to be threatened by the state in order to get them to do a very important job that they should have taken upon themselves to correct three years ago.

Currently, the Ohio Attorney General website shows there are 13 adults and 90 teens and children missing from Cleveland.  The Cleveland Police Dept. shows 125 people missing from Cleveland.  NAMUS.gov is showing 37 missing cases.  The website for Cuyahoga County run by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff Dept. show 118 missing people from Cleveland.  Four different websites with four different counts for just one city.

Sadly, the Cleveland Police Dept. is not the only department that has this issue.  With no standards across the board on how a missing person case is to be done in each police department, mistakes are constantly made, and prosecutions are not being done.  With my years of advocating for the missing, I have heard all kinds of incorrect procedures done by the police departments across the US.  I have theorized that they are done mostly out of ignorance, because there is no training on missing person reporting or investigating.  Very few police departments have a department that is dedicated to only missing persons.

It’s only recently, after the rise of social media that the police have finally stopped telling the public they have to wait 24-hours before they can report someone missing.   Although I am still hearing case after case where the police are still refusing to take missing persons reports from private citizens based on their opinion that it does not have to be done.

I believe that in order to turn things around that the states will find they need to step up and create a standard, and to provide more funding for training and personnel so that there is a missing person department in each police station.  A monstrous task for the state but necessary, because no police department across the U.S. will ever be able to make any headway with all their missing persons cases, recent or cold, without more personnel, training, funding and a state that lays down the law.  Treat a missing person case as importantly as a murder case, and we will see more people found quicker, many cold cases being solved, and more prosecutions.

 

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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