The Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting that the FBI investigating a string of missing person cases in Washington, D.C. involving black and latina girls. From Fox News:
The District of Columbia logged 501 cases of missing juveniles, many of them black or Latino, in the first three months of this year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department, the city’s police force. Twenty-two were unsolved as of March 22, police said.
The letter, dated Tuesday and obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, was sent by Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress.
They called on Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to “devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”
Apparently, this all started with a tweet (a pair of tweets actually). Earlier this month a contributor to Essence magazine tweeted about a spate of missing girls in Washington, D.C. Notice the number of retweets:
It takes 3.2 secs to retweet and help find these 8 BLACK GIRLS reported missing in Washington, D.C. during the past three days (1/2) pic.twitter.com/xpEwNcW44S
— Black Marvel Girl (@BlackMarvelGirl) March 13, 2017
That viral tweet led to an article in Teen Vogue and other outlets concerned the cases weren’t getting enough media attention. But here’s the twist. Washington, D.C. police say the number of missing persons are actually down this year. There hasn’t been an uptick in the number of people missing, rather police are simply tweeting about the cases more. From USA Today:
According to the head of Metropolitan Police Department’s Youth and Family Services, over the past five years 200 people have been reported missing each month.
So far in 2017, there have been 190 cases on average.
From 2012 to 2016, officials said 99 percent of all missing person cases have been closed. Out of those 19,000 cases, only 16 remain open.
NBC 4 in Washington has a bit more, including a key point about these cases:
All of the teens who have reported missing in 2017 left voluntarily, police spokeswoman Karimah Bilal said.
[Commander Chanel] Dickerson said she thinks the department’s new tactic has fueled concerns that teens in the city are being kidnapped.
“Because of the number of releases, there have been concerns that young girls in the District of Columbia are victims of human trafficking or have been kidnapped,” she said.
There’s no evidence to suggest that D.C. has a human trafficking problem, the police spokeswoman said.
Missing person cases, especially those involving minor girls, need to be taken very seriously. However, it sounds like the D.C. police are already doing a pretty good job tracking these cases and, more importantly, solving them. It also seems as if some of this attention might be the result of people getting the wrong idea about what is happening. These cases are apparently not the result of kidnapping or human trafficking and, again, the overwhelming majority of them are being solved.
The irony here is that people concerned these cases are not getting enough attention may have inadvertently demonstrated they are since all of this activity seems to be the indirect result of police tweeting more frequently about missing person cases. That said, this is one situation where a little extra concern and media attention won’t do any harm.