Published: May, 2010| Joanna Arlow, Edited by Stephanie Avalon

The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), a non-profit network of domestic violence programs serving survivors statewide, receives many questions from domestic violence advocates asking about police practices during a missing persons investigation.

Advocates in Washington state told us that “police often contact our shelters and programs and want to know if a survivor who has been reported missing is using our services. Clearly, they are not familiar with our confidentiality practices.”

In an effort to address this concern, WSCADV, in partnership with The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), brought together representatives of law enforcement and advocates from community-based domestic violence programs to craft tools to help support confidentiality of survivors and to guide police practice during a missing persons investigation.

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence publication, At A Glance: Responding to Requests for Information from Law Enforcement in a Missing Persons Investigation helps to guide domestic violence advocates' responses to requests for information from law enforcement during a missing persons investigation. General information about what happens during a missing persons investigation, the impact on safety planning, and confidentiality are all addressed.

Law enforcement also learns what to expect when they contact domestic violence programs -- including confidentiality obligations under WA law -- in the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs document, Recommended Guidelines and Training Materials: Model Policy for Law Enforcement Interaction with Community Based Domestic Violence Programs During Missing Persons Investigations. (Fall 2009)

For more information, please contact:

Joanna Arlow
Policy Director
Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs
(360) 486-2401 (v)
jarlow@waspc.org

Leigh Nachman Hofheimer
Program Coordinator
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
(206) 389-2515, ext. 202 (v)
(206) 389-2900 (tty)
leigh@wscadv.org