WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Metropolitan Police Department leaders held a news conference on Thursday to dispel what they said is an incorrect perception that the number of missing persons cases are on the rise in the city.
Interim Chief Peter Newsham said the trend is actually going down.
"In 2016, we’ve had almost 1,000 fewer reports of missing persons than we had in 2012," added Newsham.
He said what has changed is that the department is now publicizing every single missing persons case and that increased exposure has led to the perception that the number of cases are growing. He credited the new policy to Commander Chanel Dickerson, who was put in charge of the Youth and Family Services division in December.
The majority of missing persons cases are juveniles, but Dickerson said that number is also going down.
"Over the past five years, since 2012, parents or guardians have reported almost 200 juveniles missing per month. So far in 2017, about 190 have been reported missing per month" said Dickerson.
She said that 34 juvenile cases remain unsolved, but none of them are related and there's nothing suggesting that all of them are victims of human trafficking.
Newsham added that with every juvenile case that is resolved, police follow-up to see what might have caused the child to leave the home.
"If there’s any indication that the child may be in any type of danger, then we’ll take appropriate action to ensure they’re not," said Newsham. He added that the most common reasons for teenagers running away is because of issues at home or "teenage rebellion".