7-6 Missing Persons
Policy Type: Local
Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department
Initial Policy Approved: 6/17/2014
Current Revision Approved: 6/17/2014
It is VCU Police Department’s policy to report and investigate the disappearance of persons from the properties of VCU and patients from the VCUHS Hospitals. There shall be no waiting period regarding missing persons. This agency shall assist in the location of certain psychiatric patients who have left VCUHS without medical or legal authorization.
All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.
Procedure for Missing Persons
- On receipt of a complaint of a missing person from the VCU/VCUHS campuses, the Communications Officer shall dispatch an officer to the complainant’s location or obtain a telephone number at which the complainant may be reached for interview purposes.
- The responding officer shall first establish that the subject in question was last known to have been physically on VCU property, rather than the jurisdiction of another police agency. If the party was last seen in another jurisdiction, the complainant shall be assisted in contacting the appropriate department in order to file a report, without delay.
- If the person was determined to be missing from this jurisdiction, the responding officer shall, without delay:
- Notify the on-duty Patrol Shift Commander, and
- Secure the assistance of other police personnel to conduct a reasonable search of the area.
- The responding officer shall obtain all necessary information for an administrative report. It is particularly important to obtain accurate callback information for the complainant since their assistance will be needed for the investigation.
- If the circumstances of the subject’s disappearance suggest foul play, an offense report shall be filed in lieu of the administrative report.
- As soon as possible after the complaint, the Patrol Shift Commander shall review all pertinent information and she/he may, at her/his discretion, authorize a lookout to be sent to the Richmond VCIN group.
- If the person is missing from VCUHS, the Patrol Shift Commander shall notify the on-duty Clinical Administrator and the Director of Hospital Security.
- The Patrol Commander will, without delay, review the initial report and determine if one of the following extraordinary circumstances exists:
- The person in question, regardless of age, has a proven physical/mental disability or is senile, and there is an immediate danger to his safety or the safety of others.
- The person in question, regardless of age, is believed to be in the company, voluntarily or involuntarily, of another person under circumstances indicating that their physical safety is in danger.
- The person in question is not an emancipated juvenile, or
- The person in question, regardless of age, is missing after a disaster.
- The absence without medical authorization of any patient who may pose a medical danger to himself or others.
- If any of the above circumstances exists, information regarding the subject’s disappearance shall immediately be entered into VCIN/NCIC. Documentation must be on file at the time of the entry, which substantiated the stated conditions under which the person is declared missing. Examples of acceptable documentation are:
- A missing juvenile report completed as a result of investigation by a police officer and filed with the police department.
- A written statement from a physician or other authoritative source, corroborating the missing person’s physical/mental disability (State Police Form SP 67-8-1-89 filed in VCUPD Dispatch and a copy attached to the report).
- A written statement from a parent, guardian, next of kin or other authoritative source advising that the person is in danger or that their disappearance was not voluntary (See for SP 67-8-1-89 as above).
- The patrol officer assigned to the case shall be responsible for the completion of any of the following reports, which are necessary for the entry of the missing person’s information into VCIN/NCIC:
- An NCIC Missing Person Record Entry report (NCIC Form 8-284), if the person is an adult.
- A Missing Children Information Clearinghouse report (State Police Form SP 183).
- VCUPD Missing Person Form.
- The Shift Commander shall forward the report and any supplementary information to Investigations Division supervisor for review and assignment to an investigator.
Investigations Division Responsibilities
- The investigator assigned to the case shall, without delay, review the initial report and conduct a follow-up investigation, and determine if there are any extraordinary circumstances concerning the subject’s disappearance.
- The investigator assigned to the case shall be responsible for the completion of any of an NCIC Missing Person Record Entry report (NCIC Form 8-284), if the person is an adult, which is necessary for the entry of the missing person’s information into VCIN/NCIC.
- The on-call investigator shall be notified if the incident occurs on a weekend, but the Patrol Shift Commander will be responsible for the report’s investigation until the next workday. If, however, the on-call investigator responds, it shall be her/his responsibility.
- Upon notification of the return or a change in status of a missing person/patient, it will be the responsibility of the assigned investigator of the Investigations Division to immediately remove the subject from NCIC/VCIN.
Investigation of Escaped Psychiatric Patients
Personnel of the VCUHS Psychiatric wards or other care areas shall notify VCUPD of:
- The escape of any psychiatric patient committed to the care of the VCUHS Hospitals by TDO or involuntary commitment order.
- The absence without medical authorization of any psychiatric patient who may pose a danger to himself or others.
- Upon the receipt of an escape by a psychiatric patient, the response shall be as outlined above.
- The Shift Commander shall notify the Chief of Police, Director of Hospital Security and Clinical Administrator on-call in any case of a missing or escaped psychiatric patient. It will be the Clinical Administrator’s responsibility to consult the medical staff, and make a determination if an escape warrant will be issued (VA Code 37.1-76), and notify the VCUPD of the warrant’s existence.
- Upon notification by the Clinical Administrator of the existence of an escape warrant, the Patrol Shift Commander shall authorize entry of information concerning the escaped patient into NCIC/VCIN. The patient will be entered as a wanted person if a warrant exists or will be entered as a missing person if no warrant exists.
- The officer taking the original report shall, before the end of their tour of duty, check with the reporting personnel to determine if the patient has returned. This responsibility will be passed along to the officer’s relief as well.
- Upon notification of the return or a change in status of a missing psychiatric patient, it will be the responsibility of the assigned investigator of the Investigations Division to immediately remove the subject from NCIC/VCIN.
- Should the circumstances involved in a missing person/patient case involve a juvenile, foul play, or any other potential for an emergency exists, the VCU Emergency Notification Policy will be initiated.
- In the event that an Amber Alert is necessary, the VCUPD will assist RPD and/or VSP in initiating the proper protocol.
None - New Policy