Home > Life In Blue, Writing Police Procedure > Writer’s Fact Check: 48 Hour Missing Person Myth

Writer’s Fact Check: 48 Hour Missing Person Myth

Months ago, my husband and I were watching a movie when I came unglued over a scene where the police made a woman wait 48 hours before reporting her friend missing. This is total BS and is harmful to the public. My dissing an incorrect police procedure from Hollywood is a common occurrence in my house but I don’t usually jump out of my chair and scream at the television. My poor husband almost had a heart attack.

A few days ago, I was reading a really good romantic thriller and ran across the same situation. I marched downstairs, Nook in hand, and read the passage to my husband. He was working on his fantasy football draft. I must give him credit because he listened patiently to what I had to say. When I finished, he asked, “Didn’t that recently upset you in a movie we watched?”

woman screaming1See, my screaming had a lasting effect and he remembered my outburst even during football draft.

So Authors! Get your facts straight. The 48 hour rule is not just a myth, it’s dangerous to the people who read your books and believe you know what you’re talking about.

As a detective, a woman in my community waited 48 hours to inform the police that her son was missing. I helped dig his burned body from a shallow grave. This is why I scream and stomp my feet. If you write mystery, thrillers, police procedural, the last thing you want to do is spread false information that could possibly do more harm than good.

48 HOURS IS A DANGEROUS MYTH!

 

So let’s take a look at the truth:

  • Police take the totality of circumstances into consideration. It’s not against the law for an adult to take a trip and leave without telling anyone however police will always file a report.
  • Did the missing person pack clothes, toothbrush, wallet or other essential items? What about their vehicle, is it gone too?
  • Was there a family fight? Police can and will place an alert on a vehicle license plate.
  • Is this a common occurrence?
  • Do you live with the missing person and if not have you checked their home? The police will do what’s called a welfare check. I’ve done my share. Many are for the elderly after out of town relatives call. Several have ended in finding a person dead of natural causes.
  • Does the person have special needs; medication, mental or physical disabilities requiring assistance?
  • Why do you feel they are missing and endangered?

It should go without saying that any missing child, 18 years of age and younger, is endangered.

Stop the myth and do your job as an author. Research please. Screaming fits in my living room are extremely bad for my husband’s health and my blood pressure.

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  1. Donna
    September 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Great post, Suzie! Thanks for setting the record straight on such an important issue.

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