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Legal Statutes: Maryland

UPDATED April 19, 2017

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Subtitle 4. Missing Children

back to top§ 9-402. Duties of law enforcement agencies

In general

(a) On receipt of a report regarding a missing child by a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency shall immediately determine if:

(1) the missing child has not been the subject of a prior missing persons report;

(2) the missing child suffers from a mental or physical handicap or illness;

(3) the disappearance of the missing child is of a suspicious or dangerous nature;

(4) the person filing the report of a missing child has reason to believe that the missing child may have been abducted;

(5) the missing child has ever previously been the subject of a child abuse report filed with the State or local law enforcement agency; or

(6) the missing child is under 17 years of age.

Immediate duties of law enforcement agency if conditions in subsection (a) exist

(b) Upon conclusion by the law enforcement agency that any one of the conditions specified in subsection (a) of this section exists, the law enforcement agency shall immediately:

(1) enter all necessary and available information into the Maryland Interagency Law Enforcement System (MILES) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer networks;

(2) institute appropriate intensive search procedures, including the coordination of volunteer search teams;

(3) notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and forward to the State Clearinghouse for Missing Children a copy of the missing persons report involving the missing child;

(4) notify the appropriate local department and, to the extent possible, obtain any information that may assist in the locating of the missing child; and

(5) enlist the aid of the Department of State Police, when appropriate, in locating the missing child.

Duties of law enforcement agency if conditions in subsection (a) do not exist

(c) If the conditions specified in subsection (a) of this section do not exist, the law enforcement agency shall:

(1) immediately seek to determine the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the missing child; and

(2) implement the procedures set forth in subsection (b) of this section within 12 hours of the filing of a report regarding a missing child, if the missing child has not been located.

State Police to help if child missing more than 24 hours

(d) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if a missing child has not been located within 24 hours of the filing of a missing persons report and either the local law enforcement agency or the Department of State Police have reason to believe that the missing child may be located in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the missing persons report was filed, the Department of State Police shall enter the investigation and, in cooperation with the appropriate local law enforcement agencies, assist State and national efforts to locate the missing child.

No mandatory waiting period

(e)(1) A law enforcement agency may not establish a mandatory waiting period before beginning an investigation to locate a missing child.

(2) A law enforcement agency may not adopt rules, regulations, or policies that prohibit or discourage the filing of a report or the taking of any action on a report that a child is a missing child or that a child is believed to be a missing child.

Notification when child found

(f) Every person filing a report of a missing child shall be required to notify the local law enforcement agency and the Department of State Police immediately upon the locating of the missing child if it is unlikely that the local law enforcement agency or the Department of State Police have knowledge that the missing child has been located.
Added by Acts 1985, c. 496, § 1, eff. July 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 1994, c. 165, § 3, eff. July 1, 1994; Acts 1994, c. 166, § 3, eff. July 1, 1994; Acts 1995, c. 3, § 2, eff. March 7, 1995; Acts 2005, c. 464, § 3, eff. Jan. 1, 2006; Acts 2012, c. 415, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2012.