Unfortunately, we live in a world where dozens of people go missing every day. While we at Destiny Search Project wish we could help all of them it’s just not realistic. Not only is it a matter of how many potential cases there could be but also types of situations. As such we have developed some guidelines to help direct us in what cases to take on and when. It should be noted that these are guidelines which mean that they can be worked around as approved by staff in certain circumstances. You can read the official document at the following link. This blog article will discuss some of the guidelines in more detail.
So let’s begin our discussion with our general guidelines. The Destiny Search Project works directly with the families of missing loved ones. There may be some instances though when we work for Law Enforcement or Search & Rescue organization, in which case there are other criteria that would be worked under. We know that you friend may be missing, or you have seen information about a missing person from another source but we need to have direct contact with someone within the family to provide our services.
We also need to have information on a Law Enforcement contact about each case. This is done to cover some specific issues that may unfortunately arise. While we do not want to give specifics we will say that we do not want to inadvertently assist anyone to find someone who may be seeking safety. If someone requesting our services has contacted Law Enforcement and we verify it is much less likely such an occurrence. This also is helpful in juvenile cases to determine runaway or custodial issues.
There are a couple of types of missing persons we will generally not be involved in; That is those missing over a week as our search operations and flier distribution through social media are best used in the earliest stages of a missing person. The second is that of a wilderness search in the mountains or other types of rugged terrain. We defer these types of cases to highly trained and skilled Search & Rescue organizations. There may be times when we may team up with an SAR group to provide specific help to their operations.
Now onto specifics by age starting with younger children who are under thirteen. In a missing child case, it is essential to be working under a close relationship with Law Enforcement. We want to be sure to not do anything that could affect an investigation, or possibly endanger the missing child. We will not post a child’s last name unless Law Enforcement has authorized us to, or the information has been released by them publicly. This is a safety and privacy issue and we cannot get into further details.
We will not be involved in custodial issues where one parent or guardian is attempting to locate a child. This is mitigated by having that Law Enforcement contact. If the child guardians are an organization of some type we will need specific approval from the administration for that group before offering services.
On to teens and there are just a couple of things not already covered. First is that we do not take on cases of runaways. We wish we could help but we cannot open ourselves up to possibilities of literally hundreds of cases a day. Every case we open takes time, to work on even if it’s just a flier. The other issue is we want to avoid “boy who cried wolf” scenarios where people follow or do not take interest in our posts assuming it’s just another runaway.
Lastly, on age, we want to address adults. These are one of our more tricky decisions to make sense adults can choose to disappear if they want. This could happen for many reasons that would not be of any concern such as deciding to take a random trip, going somewhere unplanned but by choice and forgetting to notify people or many others.
There are times though when an adult is missing and does need help. This could be suspicious circumstances, an adult with medical needs, elderly who may have diminished mental capacity, or other specific items. we also will not generally activate a full search in the first 24 hours an adult is missing. This allows them time to return home on their own. We will, however, waive that if circumstances determine an immediate search is needed.
We finish off with a few items related to our services. When providing fliers we need to be able to have all of the information to create the flier and open a NamUS case. We also would prefer a most current picture of the missing person. On a flier, we will only use Law Enforcement as the contact and not family or others.
As to search operations, it is best to refer to the full Operations Manual for more specific needs. There are a couple of guidelines for activating a search though which include having a specific person that will be running the operations on site. They also need to have a computer and cell phone and get access to our Discord chat server.
Hopefully, this information is helpful in providing insight into our decision process on Who and When we will help. Again these are guidelines so if there is a missing person who does not fit them still contact us and we can discuss options or possibly refer you to other organizations better suited to fit your needs.