Missing Persons Project – The Process Is Broken

Experts agree, the first 48-72 hours in a missing person case are the most crucial. In the State of Oregon, there is no waiting period to report a missing person. If you suspect a loved one is in trouble or danger, you can call your local law enforcement office immediately and file a missing persons report. By law, those agencies must, within 12 hours, enter into state and federal records a report of the missing person.

The problem is, the law does not expressly state what happens with that data once it has been entered. This is where the process starts to break down.

Spreading The Word

Getting correct and timely information out becomes crucial to the process. Families post flyers and turn to social media for help. Sadly, those cases are often forgotten over time. Information becomes stale and outdated. Time and again, exposure is limited to those with the resources to keep the information actively in front of people. Families begin to lose hope for at least some sort of closure. They wonder if anyone else even cares.

So We Wrote a Program

We decided to start tracking missing person cases on our own. To ensure we had the most current official missing person list, we wrote a program to fetch the data from the State of Oregon's missing person list on their web site. We configured the program to update the list every two hours anticipating updates at least once daily. To our surprise and disappointment, we noticed that the update frequency of the state's missing person list was actually more like weekly, and we’ve seen it go as long as two weeks.

If the first 48-72 hours of a missing person case are the most important, how can this be?