Missing Indigenous Persons Report released

The Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Anchorage Police Department (APD) have released a first-of-its-kind Missing Indigenous Persons Report. The report provides reliable data and case transparency related to all missing persons in Alaska that are Alaska Native, American Indian, or their race is unknown within the Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) and were reported by either DPS or APD. DPS and APD personnel reviewed the records associated with each investigation to categorize the case as suspicious, not suspicious, or environmental.

In December 2021, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the People First Initiative which focused on five policy areas that impact Alaskans including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP). Representatives from DPS and APD participated in the working group that provided recommendations to the Governor related to MMIP, including, finding, “Ways to improve investigations, including data/information collection and sharing.” This working group inspired the creation of this new report.

“The Alaska Department of Public Safety is committed to conducting thorough investigations into all missing persons and murder investigations that occur in our area of responsibility, including those involving Alaska Natives and American Indians. We have heard the concerns of community leaders about a lack of communication related to MMIP investigations across the state, and this is a positive step towards increased transparency,” stated Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “In addition to the Alaska State Troopers four dedicated MMIP investigators working across the state, this new report will provide Alaskans with additional clarity on the number of missing persons that are Alaska Natives, American Indians, or whose race we are not sure of. DPS will continue to lead MMIP efforts across the State of Alaska with our local law enforcement partners.”

In addition to this new report, DPS updated the publicly available Alaska Missing Persons Clearinghouse in early 2023 to include the race and sex of each missing person listed in APSIN. This gives interested Alaskans the ability to immediately see how many Alaskans are missing statewide with these additional data points included. The dataset includes the name, investigating agency, case number, and date last contacted for every missing person in the state. Persons are listed as missing until they are located by law enforcement.

“Anchorage is a home to many Indigenous people and is also a hub to rural Alaska Native communities. A common misconception is you have to wait 24 hours to report a person missing, this is not true,” said Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle. “You can report a person missing in Anchorage by calling 9-1-1 as soon as you discover the person has gone missing. The Anchorage Police Department takes hundreds of missing persons reports each year and every one of those are taken by an officer, investigated, and follow-up conducted by the Homicide Unit. It’s also important to notify law-enforcement if a missing person is located by family so they can be cleared from missing person status.”

DPS has also updated our missing persons clearinghouse operations with the goal of inputting all missing persons into the US Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) within 30 days of the person being reported missing. NamUs is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States that includes data points beyond what is listed on Alaska’s publicly available website.

DPS and APD intend to refresh this report on a quarterly basis and add additional local law enforcement agencies that are interested in participating. Questions related to specific missing persons cases should be directed to the investigating law enforcement agency.

The report is available online at: https://dps.alaska.gov/getmedia/116ecb70-80c3-438a-bccb-b984cc8cda99/2023-Q2-Missing-Persons-Report.pdf