Sunday, November 25, 2012

Missing child report draws big police response

At about 5:30 on the afternoon of Friday, November 16, a succession of police cars began racing into Madison Park from various directions, sirens screaming. They converged at the intersection of E. Madison St. and McGilvra Boulevard E., though their purpose for being at the scene was apparently not obvious to those passing by. Several readers later asked us what exactly had been going on.

Though we were able to find a "missing person" report for about that time on the Seattle Police Department's Twitter feed, there was no indication on the SPD's crime map that any criminal activity had taken place in the general area at that time.  So we called the SPD's public information office for an explanation.  According to Detective Jeff Kappel, the massive show of force resulted from a report by the mother of a McGilvra Elementary student that her child had not returned home from school. Although the six-year-old boy was later reported as being on a bus, police protocol for missing child cases, according to Kappel, required a "multiple unit" response in order to "securely reunite the boy with his mother."

It was a school-bus driver who had confirmed to authorities that the boy was on his bus, said Kappel, and the bus was on route to the Madison & McGilvra location when police units were called to the scene. The protocol in such cases is for the police to "put eyes on" the missing kid and be sure that the story checks out.  Multiple squad cars are needed in such cases, says Kappel, because "if there are bad guys, they tend not to resist when there's an overwhelming show of force."  In this case, no bad guys.  The boy was reunited with his mother, and, in Kappel's words, "everything worked out in the end."

[File photos.]

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