1. Policy

It is the policy of Earlham College to actively investigate any report of a missing student who is enrolled at the College. If a member of the Earlham College community has reason to believe that a student is missing, all possible efforts are made to locate the student to determine his or her state of health and well-being. This effort is coordinated by the Earlham Public Safety, in collaboration with the Office of Student Development and the missing student’s family and friends.

If not located within 24 hours, appropriate family members, associates, or a College official will make an official missing person report to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction. Earlham Public Safety will cooperate with, aid, and assist the primary investigative agency in all ways prescribed by law.

II. Procedures

A. Initial response

  • Begin an incident report. Obtain as many details as possible from complainant.
  • Verify when, where, and by whom the missing student was last seen.
  • Were efforts made to check the student’s residence; contact the student via phone or email.
  • Promptly dispatch officer(s) to conduct a preliminary investigation. Inform responding officer(s) of all pertinent information.
  • Provide pertinent information to appropriate area law enforcement agencies.
  • Obtain a photograph of the student.
  • Inform the Dean of Student Development/Associate Dean of Student Development that a missing student report has been filed.
  • The Director of Public Safety (or designee) will advise the Dean/ Associate during the investigation process.
  • Maintain all notes, records, and recordings of telephone and radio communications.
  • Search department records and advise investigating staff(s) and/or supervision about any pertinent information found.
  • As the investigation progresses, ensure that pertinent details are continually relayed to the investigating officers and college staff members involved in the search.
  • Make notifications to college/university administration in accordance with established policies and procedures.
  • Prepare a flyer/bulletin and distribute.

B. Investigative steps

  • Interview the person(s) who reported the disappearance; verify accuracy of information already provided.
  • Determine if outside assistance is necessary and request.
  • Determine the circumstances associated with the disappearance.
  • Obtain and document all available details regarding circumstances associated with the disappearance.
  • Make an initial determination regarding the disappearance category.
  • If the cause of the disappearance is uncertain, obtain relevant background information.
  • Obtain detailed description of any vehicles involved; including times sited and directions of travel.
  • Obtain his or her student identification, campus account, and social security numbers.
  • Obtain locations of his or her residences, places frequented, and employment.
  • Obtain his or her academic and work schedules.
  • Obtain information about automobiles registered to or used by the student.
  • Obtain information about parents/family members, romantic interests, roommate(s), and friends/acquaintances.
  • Obtain information about instructors/professors, workplace colleagues, residence hall staff, and others.
  • Continue to verify when, where, and by whom the missing student was last seen.
  • Interview individuals who may have had contact with the student prior to the disappearance.
  • Secure the student’s residence as a potential source of information and evidence.
  • Request investigative and/or supervisory assistance, if warranted.
  • Ensure that all additional responding personnel are thoroughly briefed.
  • Institute (or continue) area canvasses for witness information and searches of all surrounding areas, including vehicles.
  • Ensure that all potential evidence is properly handled.
  • Everyone should be interviewed separately. Obtain, document, and evaluate all information provided.
  • Ensure that use of student accounts/passwords is monitored.
  • Prepare, update, and disseminate informational bulletins to police agencies.
  • Ensure that all computers used by the missing student are handled as evidence.
  • Obtain and examine Internet service provider and e-mail records. Monitor instant messaging and chat room activity.

C. Contacting Parents/Family Members

  • The Dean/Associate Dean will notify family members; family members will be interviewed by Public Safety.
  • Advise family members about support services.
  • Advise parents/family members to maintain a log that records information about all visitors and callers.
  • Assign a liaison to ensure that family members are provided with information and support.

Investigative Checklist to Assist with the Process – General Questions

  • Is the student missing from the campus, his or her family residence, or another location?
  • Is there a witness to or physical evidence of an abduction or other foul play?
  • Is the student despondent or mentally or physically disabled?
  • Is the student experiencing academic, personal, or financial problems?
  • Has the student disappeared before?
  • Does the student have a known drug and/or alcohol problem?
  • Has the student received any threats or warnings?
  • What was the student’s lifestyle? Does the student have a criminal record?
  • Did the student or perpetrator leave a note?
  • Have similar incidents been reported within the area (attempted abductions, suspicious persons)?

Policy specifications

Last revision: 04/01/2009
Responsible office: Public Safety
Student Life
Effective date: 04/01/2009
Associated division(s):
Associated audience(s):
Associated container(s):
Policy home: https://earlham.edu/policy/missing-student-policy-and-procedures