Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced that a task force would be created with the goal of helping locate missing children in the city.
According to The Washington Post, Bowser stated last Friday that there’d be an increase in police officers assigned to finding missing children. This announcement comes after recent outcry across social media following news that nearly a dozen Black and Latinx teens in D.C. went missing in recent weeks.
The force also comes shortly after Congressional Black Caucus members urged the FBI and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to assist in investigating the missing. In addition to adding more officers to combat the issue, the task force is designed to help determine needs for social services teens that have run away. Funds will also be distributed to nonprofit organizations that have a history of working with children vulnerable to unstable households.
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In an interview last week, D.C. Police Youth and Family Services Commander, Chanel Dickerson said, “I’m not trying to minimize that other people aren’t missing …but we get the same exposure to everyone regardless of your race or where you live.”
Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor, said, “often times, these girls are repeat runaways.”
“[The task force] gives the unit more resources to help locate the kids quicker and get them home quicker… it also sets up a protocol for our police department because we want to make sure when we locate the kids, we’re returning them to a safe environment,” Mayor Bowser told Roland Martin.
Bowser, who is the second woman to lead the nation’s capital, said that in many of these recent cases, there hasn’t been any connections to kidnappings, abductions, or sex trafficking.
“If we really want to help solve this problem and bring down the numbers, we have to break the cycle of young people, especially young girls, who repeatedly run away from home,” Harris continued.
Mayor Bowser said that since the beginning of the year, the city has begun to publicize all missing children cases regardless of any circumstances.
“This is another way for us to amp up the attention for kids who don’t normally get any attention when their parents don’t know where they are,” Mayor Bowser said.