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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XLVII
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AND CORRECTIONS
Chapter 937
MISSING PERSON INVESTIGATIONS
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CHAPTER 937
CHAPTER 937
MISSING PERSON INVESTIGATIONS
937.0201 Definitions.
937.021 Missing child and missing adult reports.
937.022 Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse.
937.023 Department of Education to compile list of missing Florida school children; forms; notification.
937.024 Birth records of missing children; registrars’ duties.
937.025 Missing children; student records; reporting requirements; penalties.
937.028 Fingerprints; missing persons.
937.031 Dental records of missing persons; access and use.
937.041 Missing persons with special needs pilot projects.
937.0201 Definitions.As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) “Department” means the Department of Law Enforcement.
(2) “Missing adult” means a person 18 years of age or older whose temporary or permanent residence is in, or is believed to be in, this state, whose location has not been determined, and who has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency.
(3) “Missing child” means a person younger than 18 years of age whose temporary or permanent residence is in, or is believed to be in, this state, whose location has not been determined, and who has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency.
(4) “Missing endangered person” means:
(a) A missing child;
(b) A missing adult younger than 26 years of age;
(c) A missing adult 26 years of age or older who is suspected by a law enforcement agency of being endangered or the victim of criminal activity; or
(d) A missing adult who meets the criteria for activation of the Silver Alert Plan of the Department of Law Enforcement.
(5) “Missing endangered person report” means a report prepared on a form prescribed by the department by rule for use by the public and law enforcement agencies in reporting information to the Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse about a missing endangered person.
History.s. 2, ch. 2008-162; s. 1, ch. 2011-218.
937.021 Missing child and missing adult reports.
(1) Law enforcement agencies in this state shall adopt written policies that specify the procedures to be used to investigate reports of missing children and missing adults. The policies must ensure that cases involving missing children and adults are investigated promptly using appropriate resources. The policies must include:
(a) Requirements for accepting missing child and missing adult reports;
(b) Procedures for initiating, maintaining, closing, or referring a missing child or missing adult investigation; and
(c) Standards for maintaining and clearing computer data of information concerning a missing child or missing adult which is stored in the Florida Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center. The standards must require, at a minimum, a monthly review of each case and a determination of whether the case should be maintained in the database.
(2) An entry concerning a missing child or missing adult may not be removed from the Florida Crime Information Center or the National Crime Information Center databases based solely on the age of the missing child or missing adult.
(3) A report that a child or adult is missing must be accepted by and filed with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the county or municipality in which the child or adult was last seen. The filing and acceptance of the report imposes the duties specified in this section upon the law enforcement agency receiving the report. This subsection does not preclude a law enforcement agency from accepting a missing child or missing adult report when agency jurisdiction cannot be determined.
(4)(a) Upon the filing of a police report that a child is missing by the parent or guardian, the Department of Children and Families, a community-based care provider, or a sheriff’s office providing investigative services for the department, the law enforcement agency receiving the report shall immediately inform all on-duty law enforcement officers of the missing child report, communicate the report to every other law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the county, and within 2 hours after receipt of the report, transmit the report for inclusion within the Florida Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center databases. A law enforcement agency may not require a reporter to present an order that a child be taken into custody or any other such order before accepting a report that a child is missing.
(b) Upon the filing of a credible police report that an adult is missing, the law enforcement agency receiving the report shall, within 2 hours after receipt of the report, transmit the report for inclusion within the Florida Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center databases.
(5)(a) Upon receiving a request to record, report, transmit, display, or release Amber Alert or Missing Child Alert information from the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the missing child, the Department of Law Enforcement as the state Amber Alert coordinator, any state or local law enforcement agency, and the personnel of these agencies; any radio or television network, broadcaster, or other media representative; any dealer of communications services as defined in s. 202.11; or any agency, employee, individual, or entity is immune from civil liability for damages for complying in good faith with the request and is presumed to have acted in good faith in recording, reporting, transmitting, displaying, or releasing Amber Alert or Missing Child Alert information pertaining to the child.
(b) Upon receiving a request to record, report, transmit, display, or release information and photographs pertaining to a missing adult or missing child from the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the missing adult or missing child, the department, a state or local law enforcement agency, and the personnel of these agencies; any radio or television network, broadcaster, or other media representative; any dealer of communications services as defined in s. 202.11; or any agency, employee, individual, or person is immune from civil liability for damages for complying in good faith with the request to provide information and is presumed to have acted in good faith in recording, reporting, transmitting, displaying, or releasing information or photographs pertaining to the missing adult or missing child.
(c) Upon receiving a request to record, report, transmit, display, or release Silver Alert information from the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the missing adult, the Department of Law Enforcement as the state Silver Alert coordinator, any state or local law enforcement agency, and the personnel of these agencies; any radio or television network, broadcaster, or other media representative; any dealer of communications services as defined in s. 202.11; or any agency, employee, individual, or entity is immune from civil liability for damages for complying in good faith with the request and is presumed to have acted in good faith in recording, reporting, transmitting, displaying, or releasing Silver Alert information pertaining to the missing adult.
(d) The presumption of good faith is not overcome if a technical or clerical error is made by any agency, employee, individual, or entity acting at the request of the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction, or if the Amber Alert, Missing Child Alert, missing child information, missing adult information, or Silver Alert information is incomplete or incorrect because the information received from the local law enforcement agency was incomplete or incorrect.
(e) Neither this subsection nor any other provision of law creates a duty of the agency, employee, individual, or entity to record, report, transmit, display, or release the Amber Alert, Missing Child Alert, missing child information, missing adult information, or Silver Alert information received from the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction. The decision to record, report, transmit, display, or release information is discretionary with the agency, employee, individual, or entity receiving the information.
(6) If a missing child or missing adult is not located within 90 days after the missing child or missing adult report is filed, the law enforcement agency that accepted the report shall attempt to obtain a biological specimen for DNA analysis from the missing child or missing adult or from appropriate family members in addition to obtaining necessary documentation. This subsection does not prevent a law enforcement agency from attempting to obtain information or approved biological specimens for DNA analysis before the expiration of the 90-day period.
(7) The department shall adopt rules specific to cases involving missing children and missing adults which will:
(a) Identify biological specimens that are approved by the department for DNA analysis.
(b) Identify the documentation necessary for the department to use the biological specimens for DNA analysis.
(c) Establish procedures for the collection of biological specimens by law enforcement agencies.
(d) Establish procedures for forwarding biological specimens by law enforcement agencies to the department.
(8) Subsections (6) and (7) are contingent upon the availability of federal funding for the submission and processing of approved biological specimens for DNA analysis.
History.s. 1, ch. 83-32; s. 11, ch. 2003-146; s. 3, ch. 2006-176; s. 3, ch. 2008-162; s. 22, ch. 2008-245; s. 93, ch. 2009-21; s. 2, ch. 2011-218; s. 5, ch. 2013-116; s. 311, ch. 2014-19.
937.022 Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse.
(1) There is created a Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse within the department to serve as a central repository of information regarding missing endangered persons. Such information shall be collected and disseminated to assist in the location of missing endangered persons.
(2) The clearinghouse shall be supervised by a director who shall be employed upon the recommendation of the executive director. The executive director shall establish services deemed appropriate by the department to aid in the location of missing endangered persons.
(3) The clearinghouse shall:
(a) Establish a system of intrastate communication of information relating to missing endangered persons.
(b) Provide a centralized file for the exchange of information on missing endangered persons.
1. Every state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency shall submit to the clearinghouse information concerning missing endangered persons.
2. Any person having knowledge may submit a missing endangered person report to the clearinghouse concerning a child or adult younger than 26 years of age whose whereabouts is unknown, regardless of the circumstances, subsequent to reporting such child or adult missing to the appropriate law enforcement agency within the county in which the child or adult became missing, and subsequent to entry by the law enforcement agency of the child or person into the Florida Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center databases. The missing endangered person report shall be included in the clearinghouse database.
3. Only the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the case may submit a missing endangered person report to the clearinghouse involving a missing adult age 26 years or older who is suspected by a law enforcement agency of being endangered or the victim of criminal activity.
4. Only the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the case may make a request to the clearinghouse for the activation of a state Silver Alert involving a missing adult if circumstances regarding the disappearance have met the criteria for activation of the Silver Alert Plan.
(c) Collect, process, maintain, and disseminate information on missing endangered persons and strive to maintain or disseminate only accurate and complete information.
(4) The person responsible for notifying the clearinghouse or a law enforcement agency about a missing endangered person shall immediately notify the clearinghouse or the agency of any child or adult whose location has been determined.
(5) The law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over a case involving a missing endangered person shall, upon locating the child or adult, immediately purge information about the case from the Florida Crime Information Center or the National Crime Information Center databases and notify the clearinghouse.
History.s. 1, ch. 84-43; s. 4, ch. 2008-162; s. 3, ch. 2011-218.
937.023 Department of Education to compile list of missing Florida school children; forms; notification.
(1) The Department of Education shall provide by rule for a program to identify and locate missing Florida school children who are enrolled in Florida public school districts in kindergarten through grade 12. A “missing Florida school child” is defined for the purposes of this section as a child 18 years of age or younger whose whereabouts are unknown. Pursuant to such program, the department shall:
(a) Collect each month a list of missing Florida school children as provided by the Florida Crime Information Center. The list shall be designed to include such information as the department deems necessary for the identification of the missing school child.
(b) Compile from the information collected pursuant to paragraph (a) a list of missing Florida school children, which list shall be distributed monthly to all public school districts admitting children to kindergarten through grade 12. The list shall include the names of all such missing children, together with such other information as the department deems necessary. Each school district shall distribute this information to the public schools in the district by whatever manner it deems appropriate.
(c) Notify the appropriate local, state, or federal law enforcement authority as soon as any additional information is obtained or contact is made with respect to a missing Florida school child.
(2) Every public school district in this state shall notify the Department of Education at its earliest known contact with any child whose name appears on the department’s list of missing Florida school children.
History.ss. 1, 2, ch. 83-211.
937.024 Birth records of missing children; registrars’ duties.
(1) The Office of Vital Statistics shall:
(a) Collect each month a list of missing children as provided by the Department of Law Enforcement. The list shall be designed to include such information as the Office of Vital Statistics deems necessary for the identification of missing children born in this state.
(b) Compile from the information collected pursuant to paragraph (a) a list of missing children born in this state.
(c) In its centralized records in Jacksonville, flag the birth certificate or birth record of each identified missing child in such a manner that all employees of the office shall know that the certificate or record is that of a child reported as missing.
(d) Collect each month a list of missing children who have been located, as provided by the Department of Law Enforcement’s Florida Crime Information Center; identify which, if any, of the located children were born in this state; and remove its flags from the birth certificates or birth records of such children accordingly.
(2)(a) A copy of the birth certificate or information concerning the birth record of any child whose record has been flagged pursuant to paragraph (1)(c) may not be provided by the State Registrar or any local registrar in response to any inquiry, unless the flag has been removed pursuant to paragraph (1)(d) or upon the official request of the Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse.
(b) When a copy of the birth certificate or information concerning the birth record of a child whose record has been flagged or recalled is requested in person, the person accepting the request shall immediately notify his or her supervisor. The person making the request shall complete a form supplying his or her name, address, telephone number, social security number, and relationship to the missing child and the name, address, and birth date of the missing child. The driver license of the person making the request, if available, or some other proper form of identification, shall be photocopied and returned to the person. The person shall be informed that a copy of the certificate will be delivered to the person by mail. The registrar’s personnel shall note the physical description of the person making the request, and, when the person leaves the registrar’s office, the supervisor shall immediately notify the Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Children Information Clearinghouse, which must then notify the local law enforcement agency of the request and the information obtained under this paragraph. The registrar shall retain the form completed by the person making the request.
(c) When a copy of the birth certificate of a child whose record has been flagged or recalled is requested in writing, the person receiving the request shall immediately notify his or her supervisor. The supervisor shall immediately notify the Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Children Information Clearinghouse, which must then notify the local law enforcement agency of the request. If requested, the registrar shall provide a copy of the written request to law enforcement. The registrar shall retain the original written request.
(3) This section does not preclude the Office of Vital Statistics from flagging and recalling birth certificates or birth records of children reported missing directly to the office by a local law enforcement agency or from removing such flags from certificates or records based upon notification from the Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Children Information Clearinghouse or local law enforcement.
(4) Upon notification by a local law enforcement agency or by the Department of Law Enforcement that a child born outside the state is missing, the State Registrar of Vital Statistics shall notify the corresponding officer in the state where the child was born that the child has been reported missing.
History.s. 2, ch. 87-384; s. 66, ch. 96-388; s. 6, ch. 2013-116.
937.025 Missing children; student records; reporting requirements; penalties.
(1) Notwithstanding any law that provides for the confidentiality of student records maintained by a public or private school, upon notification by the Department of Law Enforcement that a child is listed or reported as a missing child, the school in which the child is currently enrolled, or was previously enrolled, shall flag the student records in such a manner that whenever a copy of or information concerning the records of the missing child is requested, the person authorized to provide such copy or information is alerted to the fact that the child has been listed or reported as missing.
(2) The school shall immediately report to the local law enforcement agency and the Department of Law Enforcement any request concerning flagged student records, and shall report any information regarding the request that may assist law enforcement agencies in locating the missing child.
(3) The school or any employee of the school who provides such notification and information in good faith is immune from civil liability for reporting and providing the information.
(4) Upon notification by the Department of Law Enforcement that the records no longer need to be flagged, the school shall remove the flag from the student records.
(5) Notwithstanding any other law, an employee of the state or a local governmental agency, a person who is employed under a contract with the state or a local governmental agency, or an employee of a public or private school within the state shall promptly report to the local law enforcement agency and the Department of Law Enforcement any information received or possessed that could assist in:
(a) Locating a child who has been reported as missing.
(b) Ascertaining the identity of the person who has actual custody of a missing child.
(c) Determining whether a missing child is in danger of physical injury or death.
(6) Any person who makes a report in good faith to a law enforcement agency as required by this section is immune from civil liability for such action.
(7) A person who knowingly provides false information concerning a missing child or the efforts to locate and return a missing child whose parent, family member, or guardian reported the child missing commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 67, ch. 96-388; s. 7, ch. 2013-116.
937.028 Fingerprints; missing persons.
(1) If fingerprints have been taken for the purpose of identifying a child, in the event that child becomes missing, the state agency, public or private organization, or other person who took such fingerprints shall not release the fingerprints to any law enforcement agency or other person for any purpose other than the identification of a missing child. Such records and data are exempt from s. 119.07(1).
(2) Fingerprints of children taken and retained by any state agency other than the Department of Law Enforcement, any public or private organization, or other person, excluding the parent or legal custodian of the child, shall be destroyed when the child attains 18 years of age. Fingerprints of persons, including children, who are reported missing that have been entered into the automated biometric identification system maintained by the Department of Law Enforcement may be retained until the department is notified that the missing person has been recovered.
History.s. 2, ch. 84-43; s. 1, ch. 94-95; s. 439, ch. 96-406; s. 8, ch. 2013-116.
937.031 Dental records of missing persons; access and use.When a person has been reported missing and has not been located within 30 days after such report, the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation of the missing person shall request the family or next of kin to provide written consent to contact the dentist of the missing person and request that person’s dental records. Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 456.057, a dentist, upon receipt of proof of written consent, shall release a copy of the dental records of the missing person to the law enforcement agency requesting such records, providing or encoding the dental records in a form requested by the Department of Law Enforcement. The law enforcement agency shall then enter the dental records into the criminal justice information system for the purpose of comparing such records to those of unidentified deceased persons.
History.s. 3, ch. 83-211; s. 169, ch. 98-166; s. 229, ch. 2000-160.
937.041 Missing persons with special needs pilot projects.
(1)(a) There is created a pilot project in Alachua, Baker, Columbia, Hamilton, and Suwannee Counties, to be known as “Project Leo,” to provide personal devices to aid search-and-rescue efforts for persons with special needs in the case of elopement.
(b) There is created an additional pilot project in Palm Beach County to provide personal devices to aid search-and-rescue efforts for persons with special needs in the case of elopement.
(c) There is created an additional pilot project in Hillsborough County to provide personal devices to aid search-and-rescue efforts for persons with special needs in the case of elopement.
(2)(a)1. Participants for the pilot project specified in paragraph (1)(a) shall be selected based on criteria developed by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida.
2. Participants for the pilot project specified in paragraph (1)(b) shall be selected based on criteria developed by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at Florida Atlantic University.
3. Participants for the pilot project specified in paragraph (1)(c) shall be selected based on criteria developed by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida.
(b) Criteria for participation in the pilot projects must include, at a minimum, the person’s risk of elopement. The qualifying participants shall be selected on a first-come, first-served basis by the respective centers to the extent of available funding within their existing resources. Each project must be voluntary and free of charge to participants.
(3) Under each pilot project, personal devices to aid search-and-rescue efforts which are attachable to clothing or otherwise worn shall be provided by the respective center to the sheriff’s offices of the participating counties. The devices shall be distributed to project participants by the county sheriff’s offices in conjunction with the respective center. The respective center shall fund any costs associated with monitoring the devices.
(4) Each center shall submit a preliminary report by December 1, 2016, and a final report by December 15, 2017, to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives describing the implementation and operation of its pilot project. At a minimum, each report must include the criteria used to select participants, the number of participants, the nature of the participants’ special needs, the number of participants who elope, the amount of time taken to rescue such participants following elopement, and the outcome of any rescue attempts. Each final report shall also provide recommendations for modification or continued implementation of the project.
(5) Each project shall operate to the extent of available funding within the respective center’s existing resources.
(6) This section expires June 30, 2018.
History.s. 1, ch. 2016-186.