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Winnipeg Police Service

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About the Service > Division 41

Division 41 | Child Abuse Unit | Missing Persons Unit | Sex Crimes Unit
Vulnerable Persons Unit | Internet Child Exploitation Unit

Reporting a Sexual Assault | Reporting a Missing Person

Missing Persons Unit

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History of the Unit

At any given time, approximately eighty people are listed as missing in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Police Service established a Missing Persons Unit in 1974 to investigate reports and locate missing persons. Currently, the Missing Persons Unit investigates more than 5,000 cases each year. The majority of missing persons are located within three days; most are located within 24 hours of being reported missing.

Missing persons cases include:

  • Runaway youths
  • Voluntarily missing adults
  • Wanderers/Alzheimer patients
  • Parental abductions where there is immediate danger to the child
  • Non-family abductions
  • Unknown circumstances
  • Unusual/suspicious circumstances

The Missing Persons Unit also handles requests from other agencies to try to locate people who may be in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg Police Service Missing Person Unit is fully staffed and trained to use best practice tools and procedures in their investigations.

On September 21st Inspector Kelly Dennison, presented on Missing Persons to the Winnipeg Police Board's Indigenous Counsel on Policing and Crime Prevention at the Southern Chiefs Organization. The Missing Persons Unit provides a timely and coordinated response to persons reported missing, understanding that emergent circumstances, depending on the vulnerability of the missing person require a more concentrated use of police and community resources, simultaneously providing compassionate and accountable support to reporting persons. Inspector Dennison reported on the structure and priorities of the Missing Persons Unit, as well as the many partner agencies they work with through WON (a network of outreach workers, functioning together, reaching out to anyone street involved. View Report


Endangered Missing Persons

The Missing Persons Unit classifies some incidents involving missing persons as Endangered Missing Person incidents. An Endangered Missing Person is defined as:

  • A person who is reported to possess a physical or mental disability
  • A person who is elderly or very young
  • A person who is dependant on prescription medications
  • A person who is unfamiliar with the city.

Persons reported to engage in a high-risk lifestyle or those associated with violent behaviour are also considered endangered. The perceived risk to a missing person can also be elevated through environmental conditions.

A Risk Assessment is conducted on every reported missing person and, if the assessment dictates, a uniform car will be dispatched to begin the investigation. Depending on the circumstances, members of the Missing Persons Unit may be called upon to assist or lead the investigation.


Missing Children

Most of the persons reported missing are under 18 years of age. Running away is the most common explanation of why children go missing from their place of residence. Unfortunately, children that run away expose themselves to a variety of risks, which may include being exploited by others.

Custody disputes also result in children being reported missing or abducted. Detectives in the District of Occurrence normally investigate these reports unless the child is in immediate danger of bodily harm. In these cases, and others where the safety of the child is an issue or it is believed that the child is to be taken out of the province or country, detectives from the Missing Persons Unit will investigate.

MissingKids.ca is Canada’s missing children resource centre. A program of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, MissingKids.ca offers resources, support, nad educational materials aimed at locating missing children and preventing children from going missing. MissingKids.ca offers various services to families of missing children. The Winnipeg Police Service utilizes their assistance when investigating missing children. For a complete listing of the services offered by MissingKids.ca, visit their website at MissingKids.ca.

https://mcsc.ca  (Missing Children's Society of Canada)




Amber Alert

Manitoba Amber AlertThe Amber Alert program originated in Arlington, Texas, in 1996 after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted while playing in her yard. She was found murdered a few days later following an extensive search.

Texas organized a system that encouraged law enforcement agencies to alert the media following a confirmed child abduction.

The name of the program is an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response System.

If a person under the age of 18 years is abducted, then the Winnipeg Police service will consider issuing an Amber Alert. For an Amber Alert to be activated, all of the following criteria MUST be satisfied:

  • The abduction has been confirmed (by witnesses or supporting evidence).
  • It is believed that the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.
  • There is sufficient descriptive information about the victim, the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle to ensure the public can identify these elements.
  • The Alert can be issued in a time frame that would provide a reasonable expectation that the victim could be returned or the suspect could be apprehended prior to fleeing.

When an Amber Alert has been issued, broadcast media will break into regular programming with an announcement of the Alert. The Alert starts with the Amber Alert tone and then follows with a description of the missing child as well as a description of the suspect and vehicle. The broadcast will be repeated every 15 minutes for the duration of the alert. For television stations, they will also utilize a scrolling alert at the bottom of the screen.

If you see the victim, suspect or suspect’s vehicle, call 911. Under no circumstances should you try to approach the suspect or rescue the child.

 

Wireless AMBER Alerts

Wireless AMBER Alerts - Sign Up Now

The public can voluntarily sign up to receive Amber Alert notifications on their cell phones and wireless devices.

This notification process is an additional tool in distributing information in the most emergent missing children cases.

To subscribe for this service please visit www.WirelessAMBER.ca or text Amber to 26237.

Any question on this initiative or anything dealing with the Amber ALERT system please contact the WPS Amber ALERT Coordinator: Sgt Randy Antonio.


Reporting a Missing Person

It is not a crime to be missing. Adults can choose to leave home and cut off all contact with friends and family. This means law enforcement is limited in what it can do in these situations. Even if law enforcement locates a missing person, they cannot divulge any information about that person without specific permission from that person.

Remember: There is no 24-hour waiting period to report a person as missing.

If there is some indication of foul play, contact police immediately at 9-1-1. If foul play is not suspected, contact the Missing Persons Unit at 204-986-6250 and provide the following information:


Missing Children (under 18 years of age)

  • Information about the child’s school and teachers and whether or not the school was contacted and checked.
  • A current photo of the missing child. This may be used by police when issuing a media release and helps officers identify the missing person.
  • A description of the child, including date of birth, age, physical description and clothing worn when last seen.
  • The time and place where the missing person was last seen and by whom.
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of friends and whether or not they have been checked prior to reporting the person missing.
  • A list of possible hangouts or locations that the child may have gone and whether or not these locations have been checked.
  • If the missing person requires any medications:
    o Find out if they have the medications with them.
    o How often they need to take the medication.


Adults (18 years of age and older)

  • A current photo of the missing person. This may be used by police when issuing a media release and helps officers identify the missing person.
  • A description of the person including date of birth, age, physical description and clothing worn when last seen.
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of friends and whether or not they have been checked prior to reporting the person missing.
  • Check all hospitals prior to contacting police.
  • A list of possible hangouts or locations that the adult may have gone and whether or not these locations have been checked.
  • If the missing person requires any medications:
    • Find out if they have the medications with them.
    • How often they need to take the medication.
  • Ensure the missing person is not at work prior to contacting police.

Links

. .
Amber Alert Manitoba Amber Alert Plan
www.childfind.mb.ca/en/missing_children/amber_alert/
.  
Missing Kids
www.missingkids.ca
.  
Canada's Missing Canada's Missing
http://www.canadasmissing.ca/index-eng.htm
   
Canadian Centre for Information on Missing Adults (CCIMA) Canadian Centre for Information on Missing Adults (CCIMA)
http://missingpersonsinformation.ca/
   
Province of Man Province of Manitoba - Manitoba Justice Sex Offender Notification Site
www.gov.mb.ca/justice/notification/index.html
 

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Last update: October 24, 2017

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