Breaking Down Barriers to Reporting

By Shannon Cartier

Shannon Cartier

Senior Communications Advisor

Homicide and Missing Persons Unit
Missing and Missed Implementation Team

On Saturday, February 3, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) recognizes the inaugural Missing Person Awareness Day.

On marking Missing Person Awareness Day, TPS is raising awareness of the processes followed for missing person cases, which may help break down some barriers for individuals who are reporting a missing person. The transparency of these processes is one of the many ways TPS is building and rebuilding trust with Toronto’s residents.

“On this inaugural Missing Person Awareness Day, we are sharing information to raise awareness about our missing person processes,” said Chief Myron Demkiw. “Information sharing is one way we can demonstrate transparency and hold ourselves accountable as we work to build and rebuild trust with our communities.”

The Toronto Police Service is committed to ensuring missing person cases are given a heightened priority, which includes providing appropriate resources.

Missing Person Awareness Day is a result of Missing and Missed – Report of the Independent Civilian Review into Missing Person Investigations. While many of the 151 recommendations suggest systemic changes relating to missing person investigations, one recommendation indicated that the Service should conduct Missing Person Awareness Days.

February 3 was chosen as Missing Person Awareness Day in consultation with the Missing and Missed Implementation Team Community Representatives, in part, because it coincides with the United States’ National Missing Person Day.

“The day is designed to bring awareness to all missing persons and the seriousness of these investigations. We also want to highlight the improved practices of the Service that we hope will regain the trust of those most affected by these investigations,” said Detective Shona Patterson of the Missing Persons Unit.

This year, Missing Person Awareness Day focuses on public education in the following areas:

  • how to report missing persons

  • reputable websites to access information about missing persons or missing person investigations

  • what happens once someone reports a missing person

  • what individuals can do if they were reported missing

  • missing person FAQs

  • 2023 statistics

  • dispelling common myths around reporting that often create barriers to reporting

This information will be available on the Toronto Police Service’s social media accounts. Community Response Officers will deliver information guides to several organizations to ensure everyone has access to this information, beginning at 51 Division.

All TPS Divisions will have Missing Person Awareness Day information guides available at the front counters in the following weeks.

“I don’t think people realize how many missing persons we have on a daily basis,” noted Acting Detective Sergeant Steve Smith of the Missing Persons Unit. “The improved processes that assess risk drives the Service to make very intentional actions to locate the most vulnerable persons in urgent situations. Furthermore, we are developing prevention strategies to better protect vulnerable persons that are likely to go missing in the first place, or again.”

Anyone who wants to report someone missing can do so by calling or visiting their local police division, calling 9-1-1 if there are immediate concerns for the missing person’s safety, or calling the non-emergency number 416-808-2222.

Visit the Missing Person Awareness Day webpage.

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