Law Enforcement Survey
Although the household interview includes questions about nonfamily abductions, researchers expected to identify few such cases through this survey. Rather, they hoped to gather additional data on nonfamily abductions through a separate study of law enforcement records. While parents or caretakers do not always report a runaway or parental abduction to the police, they report almost all suspected nonfamily abductions to law enforcement agencies. Therefore, researchers are surveying a nationally representative sample of all law enforcement agencies in 400 counties, including those with large, medium, and small populations. Within each county, municipal police, sheriff departments, and State police are being surveyed using a mail survey designed to identify agencies that have handled nonfamily abduction cases in the past year.
Each agency reporting an episode in the past year is contacted by telephone and asked to provide details of the incident, including characteristics of the child and abductor, the eventual resolution of the case, any convictions or sentences, and any additional features that are important for determining whether a case meets the study criteria. In addition, information is being collected on open, unsolved cases of missing children to learn more about the characteristics of long-term missing incidents and their investigations.