After a number of Black and Latinx teens disappeared in recent weeks, kicking off a social media firestorm, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she was rolling out six new initiatives and forming a task force to locate young people who have been reported missing, provide critical resources to better address the issues that cause young people to run away from home, and support young people who may be considering leaving home.
While city officials have insisted the number of missing teens is actually lower than in previous years, Bowser said even “one missing young person is one too many.”
“One missing young person is one too many, and these new initiatives will help us do more to find and protect young people, particularly young girls of color, across our city,” the mayor said. “Through social media, we have been able to highlight this problem and bring awareness to open cases, and now we are doing more to ensure that families and children are receiving the wraparound services they need to keep families together and children safe.”
Bowser’s office issued a statement Friday evening outlining the initiatives, which will increase the number of MPD officers assigned to the children and family services division; expanding the MPD missing persons webpage and social media presence; establish missing persons evaluation and reconnection resources collaborative; establish a lead working group that will analyze individual open cases, assess and analyze trends, and manage resource requests; identify advocacy and community-based organizations that work with runaways and provide them with greater support; and create and promote the 800-RUNAWAY hotline and website for youth and their parents/guardians through public service announcements.
To date, more than 500 juveniles have been reported missing in Washington, D.C. However, according to Metro Police, only 22 critical and non-critical cases remain open.