Wed | Sep 22, 2021

Cops, families guilty of delays in tracking missing persons

Published:Tuesday | March 30, 2021 | 1:06 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Suzette Williams (right) comforts Eunice Chambers, the mother of slain 20-year-old Khanice Jackson, and Kevon Williams, Jackson’s boyfriend.
Suzette Williams (right) comforts Eunice Chambers, the mother of slain 20-year-old Khanice Jackson, and Kevon Williams, Jackson’s boyfriend.
Khanice Jackson
Khanice Jackson
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Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon-Harrison has blamed both relatives and law-enforcement officials for delaying the filing of missing person reports because of prevailing ignorance that the conventional 24-hour benchmark no longer exists.

That loss of time is a critical deficit in the already narrow window for the recovery of children who might be at harm or at risk of the ultimate tragedy – death.

“We still hear, for example, that some police stations are still observing what is really a very archaic and outdated rule, even by the standards of the police, that when a child goes missing, i.e., any person under 18, this 24-hour period that was historically recommended before you get the intervention of the state,” she said.

But families, too, compromise investigations by coming to make a report without providing a photograph or routine information.

A total of 1,066 children went missing between January and December last year. Of that number, 217 are still missing. Six of the children who were reported missing were found dead.

Insisting that one missing child is too many, Gordon-Harrison, a former prosecutor, has called for parents to be more vigilant so they can raise an alarm as soon as children go missing.

The body of 20-year-old accounting clerk Khanice Jackson was found along Dyke Road in Portmore, St Catherine, on March 26, two days after she was reported missing. Her mother, Eunice Chambers, realised something was wrong when her daughter’s employer called to let her know Jackson hadn’t reported to work.

Jackson’s family is reportedly displeased with the police response to the missing person report that was filed.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who visited Jackson’s Independence City home on Saturday, assured that the issue was being investigated.

“It can’t be in the future that any police officer is dismissive of the public or treats lightly any report of someone that is reported missing and is potentially in danger,” he said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com