The National Crime Information Center
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a subset of the FBI, receives and tracks data regarding missing people, fugitives, stolen property, and terrorists. To easily illustrate all their data, the NCIC breaks information into Property and Person Files which includes more than 16 million active records.
The Property Files
- Stolen Articles
- License Plates
The Persons Files
- Supervised Release
- National Sex Offender Registry
- Foreign Fugitive
- Immigration Violator
- Missing Person
- Protection Order
- Unidentified Person
- Protective Interest
- Known or Suspected Terrorist
- Wanted Person
- Identity Theft
- Violent Person
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction
Acting as the one-stop-shop for all crime-related information, the NCIC collaborates with criminal justice users on a tribal, local, state, and federal level to make sure all their data is completely accurate. While all of the NCIC’s data is incredibly important, one of their most prominent records is the one about missing people.
Any missing person report filed in the United States is recorded in the NCIC’s Missing Person File. Implemented in 1975, “records in the Missing Person File are retained indefinitely, until the individual is located, or the record is canceled by the entering agency.” Annually the NCIC publishes the Missing Person File data for the previous year to supply transparent data to the general public.
Understanding The Missing Person File
Generally speaking, a missing person is defined as “someone who has disappeared and is no longer in communication with their family and friends.” The NCIC goes a step further by separating all missing people into different, specifically defined categories. The exact definitions for these categories are as follows:
- Disability (MKE/EMD): a person of any age who is missing and under proven physical/mental disability or is senile, thereby subjecting him/ herself or others to personal and immediate danger.
- Endangered (MKE/EME): a person of any age who is missing under circumstances indicating that his/her physical safety may be in danger.
- Involuntary (MKE/EMI): a person of any age who is missing under circumstances indicating that the disappearance may not have been voluntary, i.e., abduction or kidnapping.
- Juvenile (MKE/EMJ): a person who is missing and not declared emancipated as defined by the laws of his/her state of residence and does not meet any of the entry criteria set forth in the Disability, Endangered, Involuntary, or Catastrophe Victim categories.
- Catastrophe Victim (MKE/EMV): a person of any age who is missing after a catastrophe.
- Other (MKE/EMO): a person not meeting the criteria for entry in any other category who is missing and (1) for whom there is a reasonable concern for his/her safety or (2) a person who is under age 21 and declared emancipated by the laws of his/her state of residence.
Missing Person Data 2021
Though many missing people are located, an astounding number of reports are made annually. So, how many people go missing every year? In 2020, over 540,000 people were reported missing to the NCIC. Newly released data from 2021 shows that this number decreased to just over 521,000 reports! While a decrease in missing person reports is fantastic, over 521,000 missing people is still an alarming number.
Let’s break down some of the 2021 data: