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Caretaker Satisfaction With Law Enforcement Response to Missing Children

NCJ Number
Date Published
Hammer, H., Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R.K., Sedlak, A.J., and Bruce, C.
Publication Series
This Bulletin examines satisfaction with law enforcement from the perspective of all primary caretakers who contacted police regarding one or more of their children who had gone missing.
Key findings indicate that in 1999 despite current case-management guidelines for missing and abducted children that recommend the dispatch of officers in response to all missing child cases reported to law enforcement, police were dispatched to the household or scene for only an estimated 68 percent of reported missing child type episodes. Among the missing child type cases considered in this Bulletin, researchers found no statistically significant differences to indicate that officers were more likely to be dispatched in any particular type of episode, and that caretakers were satisfied with the way in which police handled the case in an estimated 74 percent of the episodes that involved the dispatch of officers to the household or scene, compared with 35 percent of the episodes in which officers were not dispatched. Other findings include: police arrived at the household or scene in less than 30 minutes after they were contacted in an estimated 70 percent of episodes involving the dispatch of officers; caretakers satisfaction with how the police handled the case was associated with the time it took police to respond; and caretakers satisfaction with how the police handled the case was associated with the type of episode; and caretakers least satisfied with the way in which police handled family abductions (45 percent). Researchers completed 16,111 interviews with an adult primary caretaker regarding 31,787 children with an estimated number of episodes with police contact of 617,900. Tables, references
Date Created: August 11, 2014