SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As of today, the South Dakota Missing Persons Clearinghouse website had seven missing persons cases highlighted. Six of those are adults and one is a juvenile.
But Bonnie Feller Hagen of the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office knows there are many more missing people than those seven. Feller Hagen records and keeps track of missing persons from information the National Crime Information Center provides to her. The data should include information from across the state including tribal lands, she said.
On average, the state has 75 to 90 active missing juvenile cases a month, Feller Hagen said. A juvenile is classified by the federal NCIC as a person under 21.
But keeping the website updated is a challenge, she said.
‘Unfortunately, at this time we do not have an up-to-date website,” Feller Hagen said.
Feller Hagen and the AG’s office want to change that.
The AG’s office plans to approach the state Legislature with a plan to develop the existing clearinghouse system and website to include more information on specific cases.
“It’s something we are actively working on because there is a lot of interest in how many juveniles or adults go missing,” Feller Hagen said.
Feller Hagen is a senior criminal analyst, the manager of the South Dakota Clearinghouse and coordinates the Amber Alerts issued in the state. She does that as an employee in the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.
The NCIC classifies missing persons into several different categories.
An active case means the person has not been found or otherwise canceled. The state had 1,953 missing entries in 2019 and 1,936 canceled cases, she said.
For 2019 there were 83 active missing juvenile cases. The low was in February at 64 and the high was in September at 92, Feller Hagen said.
The state had 26 missing persons in the endangered category. That number includes adults and juveniles, Feller Hagen said.
A third category is involuntary missing persons which had six in 2019.
Three people were classified in the disability category for 2019, 0 in the catastrophe category and 20 in the other category. Catastrophe covers people missing in a flood or similar incident. Other covers a wide-range of circumstances, Feller Hagen said.
The numbers can vary throughout the year and month to month because cases may be canceled.
Getting those numbers on a website will mean getting a law passed at the Legislature, said Tim Bormann, the Chief of Staff for South Dakota Attorney General.
Bormann said he’s working on the “nuts and bolts” of developing a plan on the criteria to share the data and to administrate the data. For example, if a case is posted on a website, the state needs to make sure it’s removed when the case is cleared or canceled, Bormann said.
“We need a process for getting on the list and a process to get off the list,” Bormann said.
The focus is on South Dakota cases but in the future, the state could be working with other surrounding states, Bormann said.
South Dakota already works with other states to share information about missing persons as it may related to an Amber Alert, for example, Feller Hagen said.
South Dakota may also share an endangered persons alert if a neighboring state believes the endangered person has traveled into South Dakota, Feller Hagen said.
Amber Alerts and Endangered Missing Person alerts and Blue Alerts are the three categories of alerts used in the state.
Amber Alerts are issued if a child under 17 is kidnapped.
The endangered missing category “is very broad,” Feller Hagen said.
Criteria to post such an alert includes age, physical health, weather conditions, suspicious circumstances and similar, she said. The state issues five or six of those a year, Feller Hagen said.
Some law enforcement do not request the state Endangered Missing alert because they work through local media instead, she said.
A Blue Alert is for when a violent suspect has injured or threatened a law enforcement officer and has left the scene. Or when an officer has been abducted or did not report for duty.