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Resource Basket for Law Enforcement

In this basket, you will find resources to help law enforcement agencies and officers when a person goes missing.

Resources cover reporting missing persons, engaging the community and other agencies, finding financial assistance and resources, information for law enforcement officers and law enforcement officer mental health and wellness.

These resources provide guidance on alert and reporting systems, how to find examples of Tribal Community Response Plans, how to get technical assistance, opportunities to collaborate with other law enforcement officers, and resources from the FBI among many other topics. Armed with these resources, law enforcement agencies and officers can enhance their responses to missing person incidents and build trust with their local communities.


It’s critical for law enforcement to take a report on every missing person. When a missing person is reported, law enforcement can release an alert to help locate the person. Reporting missing persons into national databases is also important so other jurisdictions are aware of the missing person. Below are resources to assist with alerts and databases for reporting.

Emergency Alerts and Warning Systems

Reporting Programs

Engaging the community is not only a hallmark of community policing, it’s also essential for missing person cases. Partnering with the community and other law enforcement and government agencies can be a force multiplier and pave the way to address jurisdictional issues. Below are resources that describe specific efforts of Tribal law enforcement to engage with the community and local partners.

  • The Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) offers tailored technical assistance resources to state, local, territorial and Tribal law enforcement agencies, including a training on developing a Volunteer Engagement Program in for Tribal law enforcement agencies.
  • The Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) is a gateway providing law enforcement agencies, intelligence groups and criminal justice entities access to resources. Find sample* Tribal Community Response Plans (TCRPs), which are community-specific plans to effectively respond to a missing person report, on LEEP in the “law enforcement sensitive” Community of Interest (COI). Find how to sign up for a COI in the Communities of Interest Fact Sheet.
    *The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Bay Mills Indian Community have agreed to share their local TCRPs.
  • The Tribal Resources for Justice Systems and Law Enforcement flash drive offers over 100 COPS Office, U.S. Department of Justice and nongovernmental publications and resources.
  • Cross-Deputization in Indian Country is a COPS Office publication that examines the jurisdictional and legal limits of cross-deputization and how it has been implemented in various law enforcement agencies in Indian Country, and describes promising practices and provides sample documents and agreements.
  • Public Safety Partnerships in Indian Country is a COPS Office report that describes the experiences of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and Round Valley Indian Tribes in developing partnerships to address public safety issues. This report is a resource for other tribes who wish to implement collaborative programs across jurisdictions to improve public safety in their communities.

 There are a number of federal law enforcement agencies that can provide support and assistance to Tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies during an American Indian or Alaska Native missing person investigation. It is important to know these agencies and what support they can provide.

Department of Agriculture

Department of Education (ED)

  • The ED Office of Inspector General (OIG) can provide investigative assistance in missing children cases. The OIG is an independent entity within ED that is responsible for identifying fraud, waste, abuse and criminal activity, and makes recommendation to improve programs and federal laws and regulations. Email the ED OIG.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

  • The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue (CG-SAR) can provide search and rescue assistance in missing person cases. CG-SAR response efforts include multi-mission stations, cutters, aircraft and boats linked by communications networks. Find your region’s 24-hour contact for emergencies on the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centers page.
  • The U.S. Border Patrol’s Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit responds to injuries and death to Border Patrol agents and migrants along U.S. borders.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) is a free internet-based tool that Tribal officials can use to issue public alerts and warnings to their jurisdictions, such as missing person alerts or health safety alerts. IPAWS can deliver an alert simultaneously through multiple communication pathways, including the following:
    • Wireless emergency alerts via cellphones
    • Emergency alert system via radio and television
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Radio
    • Unique alerting systems via sirens, digital road signs, etc.

To learn about setting up IPAWS in your jurisdiction, email IPAWS.

  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) delivers Human Trafficking Awareness Training (HTAT) to federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial law enforcement, introducing resources to assist with recognizing and responding to potential human trafficking situations. This course can be taken virtually.
  • The DHS Blue Campaign educates the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. Blue Campaign creates training and materials for law enforcement and others to increase detection of human trafficking and to identify victims. Contact the Blue Campaign or report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement at 866-347-2423.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 

Department of Interior (DOI) 

Department of Justice (DOJ)

  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a DOJ law enforcement agency that offers investigative assistance and partners with communities, industries, law enforcement and public safety agencies to safeguard the public through information sharing, training, research and use of technology. ATF fights the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. Find your local ATF office.
  • ATF’s Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) is a free program that assists victims and witnesses of crimes that are investigated by ATF. VWAP regional specialists have training and experience in assisting victims of crime in Indian Country. VWAP specialists can help making death notifications; providing emotional support during the investigative stage of the criminal justice process; and coordinating with and providing referrals to other programs and services such as housing, mental health and support groups. Email the ATF Victim Witness Assistance Program.  
  • The Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) provides free tailored technical assistance to state, local, territorial and Tribal law enforcement agencies using a “by the field, for the field” approach. Leading experts deliver training and technical assistance on range of public safety, crime reduction and community policing topics. CRI-TAC has a training for Tribal law enforcement agencies on developing volunteer engagement programs to respond to missing person cases. Email CRI-TAC at the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the controlled substances laws of the United States, including investigating drug traffickers, supporting crime scene investigations and coordinating national drug takeback days. Find your DEA division.
  • The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) can offer investigative support in missing person cases. NamUs regional program specialists are criminal justice and forensic science professionals who can provide case consultations, assist with the collection of biometric information, facilitate NamUs forensic services and provide training on the use of the NamUs 2.0 database. Call NamUs at 833-872-5176 or email NamUs is managed by the Office of Justice Programs, National Institute for Justice.

DOJ, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

  • The Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) is a secure platform for law enforcement agencies that provides web-based investigative tools and analytical resources. LEEP users can collaborate in a secure environment to strengthen their cases and share departmental documents. Email for more information or if you need help with the following tools, which can be helpful when investigating missing person cases:
    • The Virtual Command Center (VCC) is a critical incident management system providing real-time situational awareness. VCC fosters multiagency collaboration and allows federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial users to share information within a common incident management environment.
    • The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) is a repository for behavioral and investigative information related to criteria homicides, sexual assaults, missing persons and unidentified human remains cases.
    • The WHOIS LE Portal provides sworn law enforcement access to unredacted website owner information.
  • The Crimes Against Children Program’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) teams provide on-the-ground investigative, technical and resource assistance to state and local law enforcement. CARD teams are capable of establishing onsite command posts to centralize investigative efforts and operations. Other assets include a mapping tool to identify and locate registered sex offenders in the area; national and international lead coverage; and the Child Abduction Response Plan (CARP) to guide investigative efforts. CARP handbooks can be provided to Tribal law enforcement through FBI field offices. Find your local FBI field office.
  • The Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) helps identify unknown individuals involved in the sexual abuse of children and the production of child sexual abuse material. ECAP is a collaborative effort between the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Email for information.
  • The FBI’s Indian Country Special Jurisdiction Unit (ICSJU) investigates serious crimes in Indian Country, including murder, child sexual and physical abuse and violent assaults. ICSJU promotes relationship building and information sharing through its Safe Trails Task Forces and working group. The ICSJU also provides critical training to Indian Country law enforcement, in partnership with the Department of Justice and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • The Handbook of Forensic Services describes forensic examinations performed by the FBI’s Laboratory Division. It explains procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting, preserving, packaging and shipping evidence. The FBI’s Laboratory Division is available for use by Tribal law enforcement.
  • The Evidence Response Team Unit (ERTU) provides traditional and hazardous evidence collection capabilities to the FBI’s field Evidence Response teams, Hazardous Evidence Response teams, Hazardous Evidence Response components, Underwater Search and Evidence Response teams and Forensic Canine program.
  • Regional Computer Forensic Laboratories (RCFLs) — one-stop, full-service forensics laboratories and training centers — can assist with examining digital evidence in support of criminal investigations. Email the RCFL National Program Office.
  • The National Domestic Communications Assistance Center (NDCAC), available to state, local, Tribal and federal law enforcement officers, can assist with technical knowledge management. NDCAC facilitates solution sharing among law enforcement agencies and strengthens law enforcement’s relationships with the communications industry. Email NDCAC.

DOJ, United States Marshals Service (USMS)

United States Postal Service

Options for finding financial assistance and technical assistance from the federal government for efforts related to missing indigenous persons can be found below.

Missing person cases can be complex, multijurisdictional issues with many underlying conditions and challenges. Below are some resources for law enforcement officers on investigations, technology and strategies that can be used in these challenging cases.

Investigative Resources

  • Unresolved Cases: A Review of Protocols and Resources for Supporting Investigations Involving American Indians and Alaska Natives compiles best practices and resource guides to assist tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in reviewing and investigating unresolved (or "cold") cases. Protocols for communications, record-keeping, and trauma-informed victim services; databases of personal and ballistic information; and physical evidence including DNA, fingerprints, and forensic dentistry are all detailed.
  • The Communities of Interest Fact (COI) Sheet describes how the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) and COIs can assist law enforcement and intelligence experts.
    • Violent Crime Apprehension Program (ViCAP) available in LEEP, is a repository for behavioral and investigative information related to homicide, sexual assault, missing persons and unidentified human remains cases.
    • WHOIS LE Portal, available in LEEP, is a tool that provides sworn law enforcement access to website owner information and other unredacted information.
  • The DNA Testing 101 fact sheet with infographic contains information about DNA screening, testing, workflow and reporting procedures.
  • The Understanding DNA Testing and Reporting fact sheet provides information on forensic DNA testing and reporting, including using previously tested evidence.
  • The Forensic Genetic Genealogical DNA Analysis and Searching Fact Sheet explains how forensic genetic genealogy is used to investigate leads for unsolved violent crimes.
  • The JusticeConnect Fact Sheet describes JusticeConnect, a criminal justice network available on LEEP that facilitates information sharing, partnership development and project management for federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial partners in a secure environment.
    • The JusticeConnect Operation Lady Justice COI is a place where law enforcement and intelligence experts from multiple jurisdictions can store and share information on MMIP.

Guides and Resources to Address Missing Persons

FBI Resources

  • The CODIS/NDIS Fact Sheet offers frequently asked questions about the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and National DNA Index System (NDIS). Discussion about the Bureau’s National Missing Persons Program begins at #44.
  • The Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) Team is a part of the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Program. CARD provides on-the-ground investigative, technical and resource assistance to state and local law enforcement. CARD offers a Child Abduction Response Plan (CARP) to guide investigative efforts. CARP handbooks are provided to Tribal law enforcement through FBI field offices. 
  • The Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) is a part of the FBI’s Endangered Child Alert Program. ECAP is a proactive approach to identifying unknown individuals involved in the sexual abuse of children and the production of child sexual abuse material.
  • The FBI’s Indian Country Crime page provides an overview of the FBI’s Indian Country Crime program.
  • The Handbook of Forensic Services provides guidance and procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting, preserving, packaging and shipping evidence and describes the forensic examinations performed by the FBI’s Laboratory Division. These labs are available for Tribal law enforcement to utilize.
  • The FBI’s Evidence Response Team Unit (ERTU) page provides information about the traditional and hazardous evidence collection capabilities of the Evidence Response Teams (ERTs), Hazardous Evidence Response Teams (HERTs), Hazardous Evidence Response Components (HERCs), Underwater Search and Evidence Response Teams (USERTs) and Forensic Canine Program. ERTU offers law enforcement partners resources and expertise.
  • Regional Computer Forensic Laboratories are full-service forensics laboratory and training centers devoted to the examination of digital evidence in support of criminal investigations.
  • National Domestic Communications Assistance Center (NDCAC) is a DOJ hub for technical knowledge management and solution sharing for law enforcement agencies. NDCAC strengthens law enforcement's relationships with the communications industry.

Vicarious trauma is an occupational challenge for law enforcement officers. Missing person cases can impact a law enforcement officer’s mental health and wellness, particularly in long-term missing cases. Below are resources that can support officer safety and wellness, including a vicarious trauma toolkit with a specific section for law enforcement.

Developing Wellness Efforts in Law Enforcement Agencies

  • The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit from the Office for Victims of Crime provides tools and resources for professionals exposed to the traumatic experiences of other people — known as vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is an inevitable occupational challenge for the fields of victim services, emergency medical services, fire services, law enforcement and other allied professionals.
  • The Wellness Provider Vetting Guide provides recommended guidelines for identifying and selecting wellness providers for law enforcement professionals and their families. With step-by-step checklists, the guide lists topics for consideration when choosing a provider, program or wellness product.
    Updated April 19, 2023