Thousands of adults are reported missing to the Phoenix Police Department every year. There are many misconceptions about these types of investigations. For instance, many people believe that they must wait a certain time period to report someone missing. This is not true. There is no time limit. However, the Phoenix Police Department asks that the public exercise common sense and exhaust other means before calling the police. For example, first contact all family and friends of the missing person to ensure there was not a miscommunication, traffic delay, or other reason for their disappearance. Check hospitals and the local jails. Make every attempt to contact and locate the missing person before filing a report.
Another misconception is that only a family member can file a missing person report. This is not true. Any one can file a missing person report if they have a legitimate concern about a person's welfare.
A missing person report should be filed in the jurisdiction where the person was last seen. There are many reasons for this. Any search for a missing person must begin where the person was last seen and the law enforcement jurisdiction responsible for that area is best suited to conduct that search. Second, if foul play is involved in the person's disappearance, then the jurisdiction where they disappeared will likely handle the subsequent criminal investigation.
In missing adult cases, the role of the Phoenix Police Department is only to verify the person's welfare. We will not reveal the whereabouts of an adult missing person to the reporting person or any other details. Similarly, detectives will not "pass on a message" or provide contact information for a missing person. Private investigators can be hired to do such services.
There are many internet sources which can assist a family in locating a loved one. Links to some of these websites are on this page.
The initial missing person report will be taken by a patrol officer. A detective will be assigned the case, review it, and likely contact the reporting person within a few days. To assist the investigator, please gather together some of the following information: a complete physical description of the missing person, including identifying features such as scars, marks, tattoos, piercings; a photograph of the missing person; availability and source of medical and dental records; list of family, friends, and associates; work or school information; financial records; computer social networking information; and any other information on the missing person which may help an investigator locate him or her.
Investigators request that reporting parties be completely honest and disclose any substance abuse issues, mental health issues, or criminal activity by the missing person. Failure to do so will only impede the investigation and possibly prevent an investigator from resolving a case.
Most cases resolve within a few days or weeks. In the unlikely instance where the case remains open for an extended period of time, family may be asked to locate and obtain dental records or provide a DNA reference sample to be entered into CODIS for comparison to unidentified remains. If a case goes long-term, please update detectives with any changes in address or phone number.