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Police Action for Missing Person Reports

Updated on August 1, 2013

There are websites designed to help locating missing persons for free, this article covers the legal aspects of missing persons procedures.

A missing person is at great risk of injury, losses, threats, and even death. There is, however, a greater risk for juveniles and children when they are missing.

There are police procedures assigned to aid the police search for the minor because the legislation has great interest in the protection of the minor and to ensure he/she is located with the least possible delay.

The Law

Section 14210 PC effective January 1, 1991, states that: The Legislature finds and declares that it is the duty of all law enforcement agencies to immediately assist any person who is attempting to make a report of a missing person or runaway.

The legislation also includes the definition for a missing child to be …. any child (minor under 18 years) who is missing voluntarily or involuntarily, or under circumstances not conforming to his or her ordinary habits or behavior and who may be in need of assistance.

…may be the victim of a crime or foul play; is mentally retarded; may be the victim of parental abduction; or runs away, but has no pattern of running away or disappearing.

§ 14205. Missing person reports (a) All local police and sheriffs’ departments shall accept any report, including any telephone report, of a missing person, including runaways, without delay and shall give priority to the handling of these reports over the handling of reports relating to crimes involving property…. In cases of reports involving missing persons, (b) including, but not limited to, runaways, the local police or sheriff’s department shall immediately take the report and make an assessment of reasonable steps to be taken to locate the person. If the missing person is under 12 years of age, or if there is evidence that the person is at risk, the department shall broadcast a “Be On the Look-Out” bulletin, without delay, within its jurisdiction. (c) If the person reported missing is under 12 years of age, or if there is evidence that the person is at risk, the local police, sheriff’s department, or the California Highway Patrol shall submit the report to the Attorney General’s office within four hours after accepting the report… through the use of the California Tele-communications System.

The missing person report provides for authority to release the dental and skeletal X-Rays of the missing person and a photograph if the person is under the age of 18.

If after 30 days the person reported is still missing then a family member may obtain the missing person X-Rays to be released form the dentist or doctor medical facility. The same authority is given to a police officer is there is no family member because the X-Rays are necessary for the active search of the missing person.

For Missing Minors

If the missing person is under the age of 18, or determined to be at risk, or under the age of 12 and had been missing for 14 days, then the medical agency is requested to release the X-Rays immediately.

Once the missing person’s X-Rays are obtained under any of the circumstances above, the report and the X-Rays are then submitted to the county coroner, medical examiner, and attorney general. The information is also sent to the State Violent Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center.


Peoples , Edward (2012-02-24). Juvenile Procedures in California – 6th edition (Kindle Locations 883-893). . Kindle Edition.


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    • keirnanholland profile image

      pulled name 4 years ago from nowhere

    • keirnanholland profile image

      pulled name 4 years ago from nowhere

      This is going to be completely off topic, but I've been watching documentaries about how coroner's don't tend to have any formal education in performing autopsy's of cadavers, and reports tend to be inaccurate. I also watched documentaries about psycho-paths who are described to lie about educational histories, but who fail to empathize so they can take apart cadavers without concern, makes me wonder how many coroner's are psychopaths, but then again psychopaths tend to climb ladders of power, so I'm not sure being a coroner would be a job a psychopath would value.