Sacramento, CAÂ â€” Tuesday, State Senator Lou Correa (Orange County) presented before the Senate Floor a package of three Assembly Bills, introduced by Assemblymembers Pedro Nava (Santa Barbara) and Paul Cook (Yucca Valley). AB 33, AB 34 and AB 1022 passed the Senate unanimously.
This bill package was sponsored by the â€œMore Kidsâ€ organization, which was established in 2009, by Maurice Dubois and Rebecca Smith shortly after the abduction and disappearance of Mauriceâ€™s 14 year old daughter Amber Dubois. Amber went missing on February of 2009, from Escondido, in the San Diego area. For months,Â cops, her family, friends and her community searched for the missing teen. Â In March 2010, Amberâ€™s remains were recovered on a local Indian Reservation.
â€œAs a father, I can only imagine the anguish of parents when their child goes missingâ€ said Senator Correa. â€œWhen children are missing, the first hours are crucial. Â This landmark legislation package will give law enforcement the necessary tools to act quickly and effectively to recover missing children alive.â€
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that every year, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, this equates to more than 2,000 children each day. In California, there are more than 105,000 reported missing children every year.Â Â According to the U.S. Department of Justice, of the children abducted by strangers and murdered, 75% are killed within the first three hours.
California does not require all law enforcement agencies to have policies in place to deal with a missing child.Â Without awareness of these resources and without policies in place at the local level, the law enforcement entitiesâ€™ ability to find a missing child is greatly reduced. Â This bill package addresses these issues.
AB 33 is an important measure for improving governmentâ€™s response when a child goes missing. This bill will require law enforcement agencies to adopt a checklist document for missing person investigations, establish guidelines on missing persons investigations, and utilize a missing person reporting form (by January 1, 2012).Â This bill also directs the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Violent Crimes Information Center (VCIC) to create a list of possible suspects and provide that list to law enforcement, in the event of a suspected stranger abduction of a child. AB 33 will disseminate the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST)â€™s â€œGuidelines for Handling Missing Persons Investigationsâ€ via a DOJâ€™s bulletin and through the California Law Enforcement Website.Â It also directs POST to update their â€œGuidelines for Handling Missing Persons Investigations.â€Â
AB 34 specifies that, upon the filing of a credible police report that an adult or child is missing, the law enforcement agency receiving the report shall, within 2 hours after the receipt of the report (current law requires 4 hours), transmit the report for inclusion within the VCIC and the National Crime Information Center databases. Â This measure will also allow the state to provide information about missing children to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), which is a federal law funded program to facilitate data sharing about missing persons to governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and individual persons.
AB 1022 creates the position of a Missing Persons Coordinator within the DOJ. Â Among other duties, this individual will assist law enforcement agencies with the timely search and recovery of at-risk abducted children and will maintain up-to-date knowledge and expertise of protocols, best practices and technologies that are most effective for recovering missing children in a timely manner.
AB 33, AB 34 and AB 1022 will be considered by the Governor for his approval or veto within the next few weeks.
In closing Senator Correa stated:Â
â€œLetâ€™s never forget that the loss of innocent children like Amber Dubois are lessons to our society that sexual violent predators are real and they are on the lookout of innocent children to prey on if we let them. Â I urge Governor Schwarzenegger to sign these three bills and encourage parents in California and across the nation to support legislation that will protect the precious lives of our children.â€
Senator Lou Correa represents the 34th District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Stanton and Westminster.