National Study of Law Enforcement Agencies' Policies Regarding Missing Children and Homeless Youth, 1986 (ICPSR 6127)

Published: Nov 4, 2005

Principal Investigator(s):
James J. Collins; Mary Ellen McCalla; Linda L. Powers; Ellen S. Stutts

Version V1

The purpose of the study was to provide information about law enforcement agencies' handling of missing child cases, including the rates of closure for these cases, agencies' initial investigative procedures for handling such reports, and obstacles to investigation. Case types identified include runaway, parental abduction, stranger abduction, and missing for unknown reasons. Other key variables provide information about the existence and types of policies within law enforcement agencies regarding missing child reports, such as a waiting period and classification of cases. The data also contain information about the cooperation of and use of the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Collins, James J., McCalla, Mary Ellen, Powers, Linda L., and Stutts, Ellen S. National Study of Law Enforcement Agencies’ Policies Regarding Missing Children and Homeless Youth, 1986. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2005-11-04.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (86-MC-CX-K036)

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research


1987-05 -- 1987-07

A national probability sample of approximately 1,200 law enforcement agencies was selected from the Law Enforcement Agency Directory compiled by the United States Census Bureau. The agencies were screened to identify those that investigate missing child reports, and 1,060 questionnaires were mailed to agencies that had investigated a missing child case in the past five years. A stratified, simple random sample was designed to produce approximately 800 responding agencies. Law enforcement agencies were stratified jointly by two characteristics expected to affect investigative policies and practices: number of sworn officers (separated into less than 50, 50-99, 100-299, and 300+) and region of the country (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West).

Law enforcement agencies in the United States.


survey data



2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

1995-10-30 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.