It doesn’t matter if it’s an elderly parent, a child or a significant other that isn’t where you think they should be. If you get a bad feeling about the fact that the person isn’t where they should be, you should report it. It’s better to report a person missing than to let a great deal of time pass because you don’t want to bother the police.
In California you’re encouraged to report runaways, significant others who haven’t been seen for a long time, elderly parents who have left home and even co-workers who haven’t been seen or heard of for a few days.
Despite what television writers want you to believe, you don’t have to wait 24 or 48 hours to report a person missing. The idea of the waiting time is a fallacy. California police stations would prefer that you act quickly and file a missing person’s report. The idea is that it’s better to report the person missing and find out that it was nothing more than a miscommunication than to hesitate only to learn that your loved one was in serious trouble and that filing the report could have saved their life.
California has a division of the Department of Justice that’s dedicated to finding missing people. It’s called the Missing and Unidentified Persons Section. While this division is responsible for handling missing person cases, you don’t take your case directly to them.
In California, when you need to file a missing person report, you contact your local police station. They will take care of all the paperwork and they will contact the correct people in the Missing and Unidentified Persons Section who will spring into action and start looking for your loved one.
Both your local police and the contact person for the Missing and Unidentified Persons Section will work closely with you. They will want a physical description of your loved one, a good photograph and information about where you think they last were. Law enforcement will use this information to put together bulletins, internet posts and other material designed to help find missing people.
Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to provide detailed information about your missing loved ones mental/physical/emotional health, personal interests, travel plans and additional details that might help law enforcement get some ideas about where to start looking.
The more information you’re able to voluntarily provide about your missing loved one, the greater the chances are that you’ll soon be reunited.