A persistent theme in the coverage of missing persons has been disparate treatment of missing persons of color. One example from North Carolina paints a compelling picture.
In 2017, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department had 55 missing persons cases that remained open as of February 2018. The overwhelming majority of them are minorities. 23 are black, 23 are Hispanic, eight are white and one is unknown. Read more at WBTV.
Derrica Wilson, Co-Founder of the Black and Missing Foundation sees this trend often across the country. “We’re not trying to dishonor any community, we’re just trying to even the playing field. Because the worst is the unknown. Not knowing if your loved one is safe, not knowing if they are hungry,” Wilson said.
TV One ran the series “Find Our Missing,” hosted by Law & Order actress S. Epatha Merkerson for two seasons from 2012 to 2013. Merkerson, best known for her role as Lieutenant Van Buren on Law & Order, was inspired to host the show. “I noticed that there’s been this dialogue, especially on the black radio stations, about the dearth of information on people of color who are missing on a national scale,” said Merkerson. “So when TV One called and asked me to host, I thought to myself, Wow, some things happen for a reason.”
The New York Times recently did an article on missing seniors entitled “With Dementia, Stepping Outside for Fresh Air Can Mean Going Astray.” The article had praise for the Silver Alert program currently operating in New York City.
If there is a silver lining to the silver alert, it is this: they generally end well. They differ from other missing-persons cases in that the missing are not hiding from anyone, and are not being held. They drift toward parks, or to the subway. They are usually found in less than 24 hours, said Lt. Christopher Zimmerman, commanding officer of the New York Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit. There have been more than 50 silver alerts since the program began in New York in 2011, but most cases are closed before reaching Lieutenant Zimmerman’s office.