There are and have been countless crime-drama television shows and reenactment series that portray what happens a when a person goes missing. Many of them involve state of the art technology that is beyond the reach of most modern law enforcement departments, and most end with predictable happy conclusions. It is important to keep in mind though that these are dramatizations that have been exaggerated or re-told in a way to captivate and an audience and sell ad space. They are not demonstrative of real life.
The First 48 Hours Is A Myth:
You do not have to wait 24 hours before reporting the missing person to law enforcement. Time is an important factor in helping locate the missing individual. Waiting may be the worst thing to do if the safety of the missing person is in jeopardy. Young children or vulnerable adults who go missing may need medical attention as soon as possible. Police agencies may not be able to deploy the full strength of the resources at first, but they will be able to begin looking immediately. Waiting an arbitrary 24-48 hours would be an unnecessary hindrance to the investigation.
When you report a person missing bring as much information about the person as you can, including a recent photograph. The more information police have to work with the easier it will be to initiate a search and be strategic with resources. Despite the proliferation of computer programs, gadgets, and laboratory technologies displayed on television shows, real police departments need all the help they can get. Knowing where the person was last seen, and what they were wearing can help establish a base location much more quickly that subpoenaing phone company’s records and surveillance videos from nearby businesses.
If a missing person turns up on their own, the person who filed the missing person report is not entitled to know where the missing person was, where they went, or why. If a missing person left voluntarily they may not have wanted to be found. The police will let you know when the person is found, and if they were found alive, but beyond that the person filing the report is not entitled to further information.