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Response, Search and Recovery of Missing and Abducted Children

Length of Seminar: 2 Days
Instructor: Wayne Sheppard

Course Overview:

Law enforcements agencies are tasked to respond to and effectively investigative reports of missing children incidents. The ability of an agency to timely deploy the appropriate investigative and search resources, is of paramount importance in the successful recovery of missing or abducted children. However, understanding that the majority of law enforcement agencies have limited resources, those agencies must seek out assistance from other law enforcement agencies and supporting disciplines in order to enhance those investigative and search/recovery efforts. This 4 ½ day course of instruction will provide the participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance that response. Through scenario based training, the participants will take part in reviewing case studies, participate in missing or abducted children practicums and through work groups, assist in identifying the strengths and weaknesses in an agency’s response to missing and abducted children incidents. Additionally, the participants will identify and utilize additional resources to strengthen an agency’s missing child response. To enhance the participant’s knowledge and skill set, this course of instruction will cover the information in the modules listed below.

Scope and Scale of Missing and Abducted Children Issues:
How many children go missing or are actually abducted in the United States? Do the numbers justify a planned response from a multi-agency perspective? In this module the participants will be provided statistical data on missing and abducted children that will clearly support the need for not only a planned response, but a response that must be timely in order to safely recover a child at risk. By examining the numbers, the proper foundation will be provided in which to build a multi-agency response.

Society’s Expectations of Law Enforcement:
Never before has law enforcements efforts in its many facets of policing have come under such heavy scrutiny by the public at large. Accountability by an agency and its officers are at the forefront. In matters pertaining to missing or abducted children, the public demands that law enforcement bring to bear all available resources to safely recover a missing or abducted child. Anything less will be unacceptable.

Categories of Missing Children:
A child goes missing. A child is lost. A child has been abducted at the hands of a stranger. A child has been seduced on-line. A child decides to voluntarily leave home. What are the risk associated with the disappearance? What would be an appropriate response to locate the child? In this module, the participants will closely exam the dynamics of each category with an emphasis on risk and lethality associated with the disappearance.

Multi-Disciplinary Response:
A law enforcement agency is truly “just a phone call away” from being called to the task to safely recover a missing or abducted child. The demand upon its resources will be put to the test. Time and money will be expended as efforts are brought to bear to locate the child. In this module the participants will be provided with the investigative response and the distinct and separate search and recovery measures that must be done contemporaneously to recover the missing child.

Missing Children With Special Needs:
Elopement! Wandering! Verbal or non-verbal. Containment! These terms are indeed common language in the world of special needs children. However, these terms are very foreign to law enforcement officers and emergency medical services personnel. Without a doubt, when a child with special needs goes missing, it will require a unique response from both law enforcement and emergency medical services personnel. In this module, the participants will take a critical look at the proclivities of these children and the necessary steps to be taken to safely recover these children. Through the employment of response and search and recovery guides, the participants will be provided with the necessary measures to be taken for a successful outcome.

Search and Rescue Measures:
Law enforcement agencies officers’ primarily response to and investigate incidents of missing or abducted children. This course provides for those “investigative” measures. However, there is a separate and distinct difference in an “investigative step” and a “search measure”. This module will focus on the differentiation between the two measures and the need for collaboration and cooperation between those responding personnel. Additionally, the participants will be provided with specialized resources and field guides to enhance these efforts in recovering a missing child.

Clandestine Graves:
By its very name, clandestine graves pose problems for law enforcement and search and rescue personnel. From locating a potential site, to the proper search methods to be employed to uncover items of evidentiary value require specialized resources. In matters of missing or abducted children, the use of landfills as a means to hide a body or other evidence in these cases is seen as an emerging trend. There are valid questions surrounding landfill searches. Does the evidence support the search? Is it cost prohibitive to even conduct a landfill search? How successful or not are landfill searches? Is it even safe to do so? These questions and many more will be explored and answered before we step foot in a landfill. In this module, the participants will learn how to conduct a landfill assessment as a precursor to a landfill search. Additionally, the participants will learn what is required to carry out the actual search of the landfill. From the number of personnel, specialized heavy equipment, proper safety attire to specialized resources will be explored that can assist in the search of these clandestine graves.

Agency Policy and Procedures on Missing and Abducted Children:
In this module, the participants will consider the need for their respective agency to have a departmental policy that will serve as the foundation from which the agency will respond and investigate incidents of missing and abducted children. Moreover, the participants will clearly see the need for an agency to provide standardized operating procedures for its personnel who are carrying out that response. Through the use of pre-incident planning, the participants will identify the need for a multi-disciplinary response and what resources are available to assist in that response.

Assessing Your Agency’s Response:
Through the use of work groups, the course will culminate with the participants identifying an agency’s strengths and weaknesses in its response to missing and abducted children incidents. By utilizing an agency self-assessment instrument, the participants will identify those strengths and weaknesses and then recommend strategies to fill in those response gaps.

Course Review and Conclusion:
An important component of this course of instruction will be a question and answer session between the participants and the instructor pertaining to what are the “next steps” to be taken to ensure the implementation of a comprehensive response to missing and abducted children.

Case Reviews:
Throughout the course of instruction, the participants will review cases, inclusive of actual missing and abducted children incidents as a means to augment the lecture portion of this course.




2022 Public Safety Training Conference
April 4 - 8, 2022

Coming Soon:
Gatlinburg Training Conference
September 12 - 16, 2022

Vegas Winter Training Conference
November 28 - December 9, 2022


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