Missing persons

Off the Alex Fraser Bridge at twilight. Air1 is visible just under the railing.

In my last post I’d said I was going on holidays, one of the great things about our shift schedule is that when we take 4 days off, we end up going 12 days with out working (4 days off, 4 days of vacation, 4 days off). Well I took 2 call out shifts so I ended up with 10 days off and just worked 6 long shifts in a row, I was glad to find my pillow at the end of it.

Callout shift #1

Another platoon was short members so I took 2 call out shifts to assist them. On the first day I was dispatched to 2 reports of missing people. One turned out to be a mis-communication between foster parents and adoptive parents and was solved with a couple phone calls. The other is unfortunately still missing. We put a lot of resources into missing persons investigations. From a technology stand point we try to find out if their cellular phone is still on, who the last person they called was, is there any bank account or credit card activity, etc. We search their residence to see if we can locate any clues that may assist with locating them. We also determine who their friends and family are and begin to interview everyone that we can in order to understand who the missing person is, where they might be going, why they’ve gone missing and if they are at risk. This took a considerable amount of time during my entire block.

Callout shift #2

A significant portion of my day was spent following up with friends of the missing person. In between interviewing friends and checking places he may be I took some routine calls and provided cover for some other calls. One call of note was a report of a potentially impaired driver leaving a house. I was able to track the driver down, pull him over and determine that his ability to drive was in fact impaired by alcohol in the middle of the afternoon. I check driver’s sobriety on the side of the road at all times of the day and we’ve found impaired drivers at all hours. I get some interesting looks from people when they hear that I’m curious about their sobriety in the middle of the day. It’s drivers like this man that prove it happens all day long. This driver found himself charged, prohibited from driving for 90 days and had his vehicle impounded for 30 days.

In September Delta Police, the Corporation of Delta and MADD launched Campaign 911 to encourage the public to call 911 and report suspected impaired drivers. More details can be found in our Media Release. If you’ve been following along with the blog you may have noticed I deal with a fair number of impaired drivers and a lot have come from tips from the public. If you’ve ever considered calling in a suspected impaired driver you can see here that it works and does save lives.

Day shift #1

The first official day of my scheduled block and back with my platoon mates after 12 days away (and 10 days of vacation time). The majority of my day is consumed with my missing person investigation. I had located a receipt that the missing person had sent a registered letter to a friend a couple provinces away but had no phone number for them so I had sent a request for a police officer to knock on the door and get a phone number for me. I’m hoping the letter contains some information that could help but it had not arrived yet.

I did get asked to assist with another missing person that a different shift had been looking for who had returned home. I attended the family home and determined the young man had decided to stay out partying with friends and ignore his parents for several days. Knowing the officer involved in the file had put in similar effort that I’ve been putting in looking for my missing person, I had a stern discussion with both the parents and the young man about their communication issues and the amount of resources that had been dedicated to looking for him that could have been avoided by answering his cell phone and letting his parents know he was okay.

My shift ran a little late with some follow up and the night shift platoon had already started. On my way back to the office there was a call with a distraught person who lives with autism and had run away from the family home. She was located by one of the officers dispatched to the call and I was driving by at the time so I stopped to help. The young lady had a history of violent outbursts, especially with police. While I’m by no means an expert I have had some exposure to helping people with autism so I offered to stick around and help and the night shift Sergeant agreed. I spent almost an hour talking to the young lady and she ended up calming down and decided on her own to return home with her parents; the best possible outcome.

Day shift #2

I’d exhausted most leads for my missing person by today. However I still contacted his friends, family and cell phone provider just to check in and see if anyone had heard from him or potentially remembered other information.

We had a decent number of members working today and were above our minimum staffing levels so my Staff Sergeant allowed me to attended the rifle range and get my annual re-certification completed for my patrol rifle. We have to re-certify or re-qualify at least once a year on each force option that we carry from our sidearms to specialty tools that we may be trained on like the patrol rifle, taser and bean bag shotguns.

After returning from the range I did some follow up work for a Chronic Offender that I’ve been assigned. Certain individuals in the community are identified as chronic offenders and will be assigned to Patrol members for consistent monitoring as part of our proactive approach to policing. I’ve recently been assigned someone who has just moved into the area, I need to track him down though because it looks like he’s already been evicted from the residence he was supposed to be living at.

Night shift #1

Tonight I ended up getting dispatched to two seemingly routine calls that have developed into larger investigations. Unfortunately with the nature of both investigations I won’t be able to even provide context about them here while they are on going.

Between calls my wife called and said she was in the area with our boys so I was able to take a quick coffee break and sit down with them. My boys rarely see me in uniform and being young they love anything that has to do with emergency services and cars or trucks with lights and sirens.

I left coffee to a report of a possible jumper on the bridge. I was first on scene and found a gentleman who had run out of gas and decided to wait on the pedestrian sidewalk of the bridge instead of sitting in his stalled car and potentially being struck by another car. A good decision but appeared suspicious to some passing motorists.

Night shift #2

The majority of my night was consumed by the 2 investigations I’d landed the night before. However prior to a scheduled meeting and interview we had another report of a vehicle stopped on the bridge and a possible jumper. I was first on scene again and this time it turned out that a young man did unfortunately decide to jump. From the bridge deck our job was to talk to witnesses in order to determine if there was anything suspicious and offer them support from our Victim Services volunteers as well as attempt to spot the person in the water. We had a police boat, helicopter and hovercraft all on scene very quickly and were able to recover the young man’s body. Police on the boat and EHS attempted to resuscitate the young man but were unable to.

Most times we’re unable to immediately recover a victim’s body when they jump off the bridge and it doesn’t allow complete closure for the family. While we weren’t able to save the young man’s life, it was a priority for us to allow the family to have this closure. 2 members from our shift along with Victim Services attended the family home to notify them. One of the most painful things that we have to do sometimes is tell someone that a loved one isn’t coming home. Having been on the receiving end of one of these notifications before and being told a family member would never come home, I can appreciate how painful they can be.

My job tonight was to follow the young man’s car off the bridge and search it for any information about what led to the tragic incident.

I spent most of the rest of shift dealing with my 2 other investigations. I also ensured the report for the missing person was up to date as it’ll be handed over to the Detectives office (CIB) in the morning.

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