Missing person investigation procedure clarified
Rifle Police Chief John Dyer recently clarified the department’s procedures for handling cases where a person is reported missing.
It comes following an incident involving a Rifle teenager who did not return home Saturday night. The teen was found safe Sunday.
The vast majority of cases where a person is reported missing are resolved quickly, Dyer said.
So far, his department has had 35 missing person reports that involved actual cases, but officers have responded to many more calls than that. Often, he added, the person is found before an officer can file an official report.
However, that does not mean officers wait to start searching.
One of the most common misconceptions, according to Dyer, is that there is a 24-hour period that must elapse before a search can begin.
“That’s just not true,” the chief stated. “We start action on them right away.”
The department’s internal procedures for a missing person match Dyer’s statement.
“The Rifle Police Department does not consider any report of a missing person to be routine and assumes that the missing person is in need of immediate assistance until an investigation reveals otherwise,” the policy states. “The Rifle Police Department gives missing person cases priority over property-related cases and does not require a specific amount of time to have passed before beginning a missing person investigation.”
There are a number of scenarios when it comes to a report of a missing person, and factors, such as age and risk, have to be taken into account, Dyer said. Further, the department must meet certain criteria when attempting to issue an AMBER Alert, including evidence that a child has been abducted.
Often, there is a great deal of anxiety for loved ones and family members when a person is missing, and understandably so, Dyer said.
“If it was my kid and they were missing I’d be pretty anxious too,” he added.
Still, if a person is believed to be missing, Dyer recommends calling 9-1-1 and cooperating with law enforcement so efforts are not duplicated.
Having up-to-date photographs and communicating with loved ones, particularly children, about their whereabouts can greatly benefit an investigation.
Similarly, it is important for law enforcement to stay in constant communication with the reporting party, he added.
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Rifle City Manager Scott Hahn plans to transition out of his position over the next several months, according to a city of Rifle news release.