Webinar presenters Laura Joyner and Angela Aufmuth answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Operation Find Our Kids: Coordinated Efforts to Find Missing Children. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Are NCMEC and USMS able to assist in cases of trafficked Native American children and teens?
Laura Joyner: I will jump in because that’s actually an initiative that we are working on right now. I am a part of a working group for that population, in particular. It still needs to fit within our criteria. So, it still needs to fit within either the fugitive missing child or the critically missing child still. But this is definitely a population that we want to be able to try to provide even more support than is out there right now. And we’re just trying to not only educate ourselves a little more but to connect with the right partners, to make sure that we are doing it respectfully, and in the right way. So, it is something that we are working on. I know that there’s a working group within the Department of Justice, and I sit on monthly working group meetings. And we’re also working with someone in our agency who heads that working group, to try to figure out exactly how the Marshals service can get more involved.
Angela Aufmuth: I would just echo the same thing that this is an area of focus for the National Center as well. And we do have an individual who’s participating in working groups. The issue of missing and murdered indigenous people is something that we are focusing on also. And absolutely, the National Center is here to assist on any missing child case in the United States. All you have to do is contact us. We want to get that intaked so that we can provide all of those different resources and assist you the best that we can.
Audience Question: What is the best way for law enforcement officers to find contact information for their local US Marshals office?
Laura Joyner: You should be able to just go to usmarshals.gov and there will be a general phone number for the local Office. Or the e-mail address that was up earlier is email@example.com. Or you can e-mail me directly, my e-mail and phone number are up there, and I can put you in contact with an appropriate person. So, there are three different ways that you’d be able to do it, and then, I’m always happy to support it. So, if you go direct with me, I’ll always respond to give you an answer.
Audience Question: Can you tell us a little bit more about how a located child is handed off by the Marshals Service to local law enforcement, especially when the child is found outside of the reporting jurisdiction?
Laura Joyner: So, that’s a really good question. And normally, we try to have someone from that, from a local jurisdiction with us We technically cannot transport the children in our own vehicles for liability reasons. So, we do need to have someone, and typically we coordinate that ahead of time, even if it’s outside of someone’s jurisdiction, we try to bring them along to at least make the transportation, or we can try to coordinate with social services. In certain situations, we can do the transportation. We just have to be able to articulate that. And, if, for some reason, it’s, you know, across state lines, or they’re in different states, we actually can work with NCMEC. They have a lot of resources to be able to return that child back to where they’re supposed to be or bring a parent or custodian to where the child is located to then travel back with them.
Host: Fantastic. I did want to share a comment from Nicole. Nicole says, thank you so much for this important information and presentation. This particular issue is dear to my heart. As my heart goes out to all the missing, exploited, and trafficked children. Together, we can raise awareness and make a change to help locate these missing children.
Audience Question: Do you have any suggestions for working with law enforcement in countries without FBI field offices, such as Sweden to locate missing children?
Laura Joyner: That is a tough one. We work with our general Counsel on that, because a lot of that is legal and it’s the courts. So, I, personally don’t think I can give you a good answer for that, except to try to work with the courts and maybe even State Department, to try to find some contact with State Department to see what they can do internationally, as well. Sorry. I wish I had have a better answer for that.
Angela Aufmuth: I don’t have a whole lot to add as far as a specific kind of place to go. Laura is absolutely right as far as working with State Department. They can be a huge resource. At the National Center, we do have someone who is in our legal department, who has a lot of knowledge and works specifically on all types of missing child cases. We do we have cases where a child has been abducted to another country, and so we do have resources and information on how to navigate that whole process. So, if you would like to contact me via e-mail or give me a call, I’ll be happy to get some more information on what you’re looking for and what you’re trying to navigate and then try to connect you with that individual to give you some more information.
Audience Question: Is the US Marshals Service able to assist Child Protection Services with runaway wards of the state somewhere outside of the local area or should we first go through local law enforcement?
Laura Joyner: So, definitely go through local law enforcement first. Because, again, these are cases that we support. You can still reach out to us. If that child is listed as missing in NCIC and meets our criteria, we can help with any case. So as long as it meets that criteria, we’re good to go. We just encourage the locals to be involved in it as well.
Audience Question: When multiple children, such as siblings, are reported missing, are they assigned separate NCMEC case numbers?
Angela Aufmuth: That is a really good question. And so, technically, yes, but they’re also included in the same case. So, the same case manager would be assigned to that case, and so you would have, say, if, you know, Dick and Jane were taken or went missing, you would have Dick listed as the child who’s missing, and then the sibling would also be listed as a companion and then vice versa. So, you would have them each listed as a missing child. And then also as a companion, but it would all be handled by the same case manager and coordinated in that way.
Audience Question: Is there a limit for how long a child should be missing before the US Marshals will assist?
Laura Joyner: No, not at all. And in fact, in a lot of the abduction cases, we are supporting right away. There was actually just a casein Savannah where a woman was shot in the face and her two twin infants were abducted. And immediately the Marshal Service got involved to support that case and it helped because they had really great relationships with the partners. And so, they coordinated that support from the very beginning. So, there’s no time limit. We will help as soon as that child is listed as missing.
Host: We’ve gotten some amazing comments regarding the international cases. The first one is from Joel with the US Department of Justice, and he indicated, the FBI field office where you live can report missing children and, if appropriate, can utilize their contacts to the legal attaché office of that territory. We also had Silvia who suggested the Copenhagen FBI office is responsible for Sweden as well. So that may be an option in terms of contacting for that case in Sweden.
Audience Question: Is there a way to sign up to volunteer and help in NCMEC cases?
Angela Aufmuth: So, we do have a whole lot of different volunteer opportunities. As far as working specifically on cases it really would sort of depend on your background, if you are former law enforcement, obviously being able to be a part of team Adam is an option. If you are a parent who’s experienced a missing child there’s Team HOPE, like I mentioned. We do have a ton of different volunteer opportunities. And if you go to missing kids.org, we do have some information that’s up there that would be able to kind of thread through and match you with a good opportunity. But, I will be honest, specifically, working on missing child cases is not something that we do utilize volunteers for.
Audience Question: Would it be appropriate for a private system to ask their local law enforcement agency if they have contacted the Marshals Service for support?
Laura Joyner: Absolutely, I would say. If you’re supporting a case as a private entity, I think it’s fine to reach out to the locals and ask questions. They might not tell you or they might not know, and now you’ve educated them, that the Marshal Service is available to help. So, I would absolutely encourage that.
Audience Question: Where can I report suspected perpetrators of child pornography?
Angela Aufmuth: So that’s a really great question. And absolutely, you can report that information online at cybertipline.org. Or you can call our hotline at 1800-THE-LOST to report that information. If you have information about someone who might be producing child sexual abuse material, that’s a great way to get that started. Obviously, you can report that directly to law enforcement as well. But so, you understand the process of what would happen if you reported it: The Cyberip report would be handled by an analyst who would be conducting searches and adding value, and then it would be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement entity to do the actual investigation. But obviously, report to law enforcement or cybertipline.org.. Laura, is there anything that you would add?
Laura Joyner: No. I would say to contact NCMEC.
Audience Question: Does the US Marshals request that the local agency stop their efforts to locate the child if the Marshals have accepted that case?
Laura Joyner: Absolutely not. This is something that we want to work in conjunction with the locals and we want to work alongside them. So, we do not want to take these cases from them. In fact, we really discourage that because we are there to support them. So, no we want to work alongside the locals.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Operation Find Our Kids: Coordinated Efforts to Find Missing Children.