In the last five days, Chicago police have released 11 alerts to the media about residents who have been reported missing. The seeming flurry comes after questions about why no information was released to news outlets about the disappearance of 12-year-old Jahmeshia Conner, who was found strangled Nov. 30 in an alley two weeks after she was reported missing, says the Chicago Tribune.
The police news affairs office has started releasing the “Critical Reach” alerts on each of its three shifts rather than just one. The issue of when to send a media alert is complex, given the numbers of those who disappear and how many return safely. In 2009, there have been 16,000 people reported missing in Chicago. The clearance rate is more than 95 percent. National experts say the media can play a critical role in locating a missing person, but discretion should be used. “If you put out an alert for every child, the alerts are not going to work anymore,” said Cindy Rudometkin of the Polly Klaas Foundation. “People will become desensitized.”