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Santa Maria Police Department responds to volume of missing pers - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Santa Maria Police Department responds to volume of missing persons cases

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A KSBY Investigation has found the Santa Maria Police Department currently has the highest number of unsolved missing persons cases of any law enforcement agency in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties -- approximately 155. Of those, 108 have been missing for more than a year.

Every year, the SMPD handles an average of about 700 missing person cases, according to Commander Phillip Hansen. This year alone, he says there had been 547 reported cases by the end of October.

Hansen tells KSBY News there are several possible reasons for the relatively high number, including Santa Maria's population, which is greater than any other city in the two counties. He says Santa Maria's large migrant population may also make it more difficult to find missing persons and maintain contact with their families.

Hansen says the police department is taking a close look at its procedures. "In the last few months, we have more than doubled the size of our Detective Bureau, and I am very pleased to report that we also recently added the services of a very special volunteer, who is a retired detective sergeant from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," he said in a statement to KSBY. "His sole focus at this time is to complete a systemic review of our protocols for handling missing persons. He will be creating an all-encompassing policy and procedure for our department that will provide specific protocols for all of our personnel, to include dispatchers, patrol officers, detectives and clerical staff. It is my goal to have this new policy and the associated procedures in place and operating on or before January 1, 2016. In short, we are taking the issue of missing persons very seriously and doing everything we can to provide the best service for our community."

Related links:
Santa Maria Police Department missing persons cases (11/2015)
Santa Maria PD missing persons policy

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