The Juneau Police Department stood up a new missing persons database to help the community in the search for the lost. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

The Juneau Police Department stood up a new missing persons database to help the community in the search for the lost. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

Police launch local missing people database

It’s meant to help the police and community work together to find missing persons more quickly.

The Juneau Police Department has started a new portal on its website listing all of Juneau’s missing people and highlighting steps to take if a Juneau resident believes someone has gone missing.

The page, located at juneau.org/police/missing-persons, comes after a year with nearly half a dozen high-profile missing persons cases.

“We’re just trying to spread awareness of our outstanding cases. When somebody goes missing, we contemporaneously put something on social media,” said JPD public safety manager Erann Kalwara in a phone interview. “That can be hard to find later. This is kind of an in-the-face place to look. We’re hoping it’ll help the community help us.”

[New walls, news roof, new name: Riverbend undergoing major changes]

The page is up now, with 15 missing persons currently listed, with the oldest on the list, Jan Mlot, last seen in October 1985. The page also has links to other missing persons lists, including the Alaska Missing Persons Clearinghouse, a statewide database. JPD is attempting a more tailored approach, Kalwara said.

“A lot of departments just point at Missing Persons Clearinghouse. We considered that when we were looking at it. We felt it was a little more helpful and informative and we really try to work with the community,” Kalwara said. “The lists on some of those federal websites is not super user friendly. We’re trying to make the information a little more digestible.”

The page also has information about how to report a missing person, including vulnerable people or suspicious circumstances around the disappearance. One of the most important things to do in the case of a missing child, elder, person with developmental disabilities or someone who’s disappeared in suspicious circumstances is to call 911 immediately, according to the page.

“We tried to put some information about how to report somebody that’s missing. I think there’s some real misinformation out there,” Kalwara said. “There’s a lot of people that think they can’t call us for 24 hours.”

The page also has advice for those concerned that a friend or family member may be missing in order to achieve the best outcome.

“A lot of the reports that we take — there are people who intentionally hide from their friends or family,” Kalwara said. “If it’s somebody who’s never out of touch for 6-12 hours and they haven’t heard from them in three days, that’s more of a red flag.”

Putting the page together has taken a few months, Kalwara said, with hard work from members of the department. The page will likely change and grow as they get feedback from the community, Kalwara said.

“We’ve been talking about it for over a year,” Kalwara said. “I think we just have a lot of energy to work with the community and the knowledge to do some things electronically that we did not have.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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