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(a) In general. - In this subtitle the following words have the meaning indicated.
(b) Law enforcement agency - "Law enforcement agency" means a State, county, or municipal police department or agency, or a sheriff's department.
(c) Missing child. - "Missing child" means a person who is:
(1) under the age of 18 years; and
(2) the subject of a missing persons report filed with a law enforcement agency in this State and whose whereabouts are unknown. (1985, ch. 496.)
§9-402. Determination of law enforcement agency upon receipt of report.
(a) In general. - On receipt of a report regarding a missing child by a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency shall immediately determine if:
(1) the missing child has not been the subject of a prior missing persons report;
(2) the missing child suffers from a mental or physical handicap or illness;
(3) the disappearance of the missing child is of a suspicious or dangerous nature;
(4) the person filing the report of a missing child has reason to believe that the missing child may have been abducted;
(5) the missing child has ever previously been the subject of a child abuse report filed with the State or local law enforcement agency; or
(6) the missing child is under 14 years of age.
(b) Actions by law enforcement agency when subsection (a) conditions exist. Upon conclusion by the law enforcement agency that any one of the conditions specified in subsection (a) of this section exists, the law enforcement agency shall immediately:
(1) enter all necessary and available information into the Maryland Electronic Telecommunications Enforcement Resource System (METERS) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer networks;
(2) institute appropriate intensive search procedures;
(3) notify the National Missing Children Information Center and forward to the State Clearinghouse of Missing Children a copy of the missing persons report involving the missing child; and
(4) notify the appropriate local department of social services and, to the extent possible, obtain any information that may assist in the locating of the missing child; and
(5) enlist the aid of the Department of State Police, when appropriate, in locating the missing child.
(c) Actions by law enforcement agency when subsection (a) conditions do not exist. - If the conditions specified in subsection (a) of this section do not exist, the law enforcement agency shall:
(1) immediately seek to determine the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the missing child; and
(2) implement the procedures set forth in subsection (b) of this section within 12 hours of the filing of a report regarding a missing child, if the missing child has not been located.
(d) Assistance by Department of State Police. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if a missing child has not been located within 24 hours of the filing of a missing persons report and either the local law enforcement agency or the Department of State Police have reason to believe that the missing child may be located in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the missing persons report was filed, the Department of State Police shall enter the investigation and, in cooperation with the appropriate local law enforcement agencies, assist State and national efforts to locate the missing child.
(e) Establishment of mandatory waiting period.
(1) A law enforcement agency may not establish a mandatory waiting period before beginning an investigation to locate a missing child;
(2) A law enforcement agency may not adopt rules, regulations, or policies that prohibit or discourage the filing of a report or the taking of any action on a report that a child is a missing child or that a child is believed to be a missing child.
(f) Notice upon location of missing child. Every person filing a report of a missing child shall be required to notify the local law enforcement agency and the Department of State Police immediately upon the locating of the missing child if it is unlikely that the local law enforcement agency or Department of State Police have knowledge that the missing child has been located. (1985, ch. 496; 1994, ch 165, §3; ch. 166, §3; 1995, ch. 3, §2.)
§9-403. Clearinghouse for Missing Children; voluntary fingerprinting programs; advisory council.
(a) Creation; responsibilities. There is a State Clearinghouse for Missing Children operated by the State Police that is responsible for:
(1) the receipt, collection, and distribution of general information and annual statistics regarding missing children; and
(2) coordination of law enforcement agencies and other interested persons or groups within and outside of the State regarding information on children who have disappeared from, or are thought to be located in Maryland.
(b) Voluntary fingerprinting programs, for children. - The State Police Superintendent may develop, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, a plan for voluntary fingerprinting programs for children.
(c) Advisory council.
(1) An advisory council shall be appointed having the following responsibilities:
(i) review of the activities of the State Clearinghouse;
(ii) review of the training provided for, and investigatory procedures used by law enforcement personnel in the locating of missing children;
(iii) examine possible methods for identifying missing children prior to enrollment in a public or nonpublic school; and
(iv) explore the feasibility and effectiveness of utilizing the Federal Parent Locater Service in locating missing children.
(2) The advisory council shall consist of the following members;
(i) one person from the Department of Juvenile Services, to be designated by the Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services;
(ii) one person from the Maryland State Department of Education, to be designated by the State Superintendent of Schools;
(iii) one person from the State Police, to be appointed by the Superintendent of the State Police;
(iv) the Director of the Office for Children and Youth, who shall serve as chairman of the advisory council;
(v) the President of the Governor's Youth Advisory Council or a designee of the President from the Council;
(vi) one member from the State Sheriff's Association, to be designated by the President of the Association;
(vii) one member from the State Chiefs of Police Association, to be designated by the President of the Association; and
(viii) two members from the public at-large, to be appointed by the Governor.
(d) Term of council members.
(1) The term of council members from the public shall be two years.
(2) At the end of a term, a council member from the public shall continue to serve until a successor is appointed.
(3) Council members from the public may serve successive terms. (1985, ch 496; 1987, ch 290, §1; 1989, ch 539. § 7.)
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