WABE News
4:44 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Georgia Has 1,500+ Missing Persons

Credit Bart Heird / http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagobart/3960831904/

As of May 10, 2013, there were 1,518 missing persons in Georgia, more than half of them children.

That number changes every day, as the numbers count even people who have been missing just a few hours.

Those few hours are the most crucial factor in finding a missing person, according to the GBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cindy Ledford. “Just getting out there quickly and having an organized response with the neighborhood canvassing, the roadblock canvassing, the sex offender canvassing: all that has to be done as soon as possible,” says Ledford.

But that takes a lot of resources. Most local police departments do not have those kinds of resources, and the GBI has to be asked by local law enforcement before it can participate in working a missing persons case.

Frank Rotondo, who leads the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, says that puts local departments in a tough position with little time to ascertain whether the missing person is in danger. He calls it a Catch-22, saying “You really have to explore a little bit first and then determine, ‘shall I now, quickly, deploy additional resources?’ And if you’re wrong, maybe delayed too long, then you’ll be severely criticized.” 

The state does have a child abduction response team, which marshals the resources of nine different agencies. But again, for it to deploy, it has to be asked by local law enforcement.

As of the end of April, there were 858 missing children in Georgia.