Chapter 5

Checklist: Working With
Volunteer Searchers

Before the physical search for your child begins, your law enforcement agency will review important policies and procedures for volunteer searchers. The purpose is to make sure that the search is as thorough and effective as possible, that all clues and pieces of evidence are safeguarded, and that the safety of volunteers is protected. Some of the topics that will be discussed with the volunteer searchers include the following.

  • Personal Items and Other Supplies for the Search. Based on time of day, climate, and terrain, searchers will be asked to bring with them -- or they may be provided with -- items for personal use or for use in the search. These items include water bottles, flashlights, batteries, sunscreen, insect repellent, maps, compasses, walkie-talkies, notebooks, and pens.

  • Reporting Procedures. Procedures will be established for searchers to use when they report and sign in. The system may be as simple as signing a name or as elaborate as taking a picture or video.

  • Search Procedures. Searchers will be given instructions concerning:

    • What type of search is being conducted.

    • What to do if clues or pieces of evidence are found.

    • What to do if a searcher gets hurt or lost.

    • Who is responsible for searchers in a particular area and what is the chain of command for reporting information.

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OJJDP Report: When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, May 1998