WASHINGTON — A change in how the D.C. police report kids who have gone missing is making a difference in how quickly they come home, the new police chief said.
When Commander Chanel Dickerson took charge of the Youth and Family Services division at the end of last year, she decided to publicize the names and photos of children reported missing, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told WTOP Tuesday, following his confirmation by the D.C. Council.
“Initially, there was concern we had additional kids going missing. But really what it was was increased awareness,” Newsham said.
In March, Dickerson addressed concerns about the fact that more than a dozen young people — most of them black teenage girls — were reported missing that month.
“Let me first reassure you: We have no indication young girls in the District are being preyed upon by human traffickers in large numbers,” said Dickerson.
“The number of reported missing persons is not going up,” Dickerson said. “Since 2012, parents or guardians reported almost 200 juveniles missing per month — so far, in 2017, approximately 190 have been reported missing each month.”
The increased community awareness, coupled with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s decision to launch a task force dedicating more resources to the problem, have contributed to a noticeable change, Newsham said.
“Now we’re able to find our kids quicker than we had in the past, and secondly, there’s a lot of attention being given to why these kids are going missing in the first place,” he said.
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