Change Canadian Adult Missing Persons Police Protocol

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On April 26, 2013, my brother Jonathan “Jon” Michael Riley left a note in his house letting us know that he was going to Toronto for a couple of days, and then he completely vanished into thin air. For nearly 8 months, despite repeated phone calls and visits to the police station, police refused to record a missing persons report. Police also refused to investigate his disappearance ... until early 2018 when police suspected alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur murdered our brother. 

As we await DNA results in the Bruce McArthur police investigation, we are steeped in anger and grief. 

When an adult goes missing in Canada, current protocol dictates that police do nothing. Why? Because police in Canada assume that adults have a right to vacate their lives. Police are not required to investigate adult missing persons. 

When Police don’t investigate missing persons, families are left stranded. Privacy laws protect information that is necessary to track and find a missing person. It is not possible to access medical records, bank records, emails, phone records or even social media account messages. 

In Canada, police record missing persons through a broken, disconnected and incomplete internal database called CPIC. The RCMP record missing persons in a national database. A misinformed OPP officer told our family that Jon was entered in both databases. About 1.5 years after Jon disappeared, a researcher found out that Jon wasn’t listed in the RCMP database. We were eventually given the excuse from Canadian authorities that missing persons entries are backlogged bc they don’t have a French translation. After we submitted a French translation of our brother’s disappearance, an entry appeared on the RCMP missing persons database and website. 

Other Canadian families of missing loved ones have asked us how we did it. How did we get Jon listed in the missing person national database? How did we get him on the website? Do you know that only a handful of cases are arbitrarily featured on the national missing persons website? Some families have been trying to get loved ones listed in the databas for over a decade. Our hearts break for these families.

Since privacy laws block our access to information, this RCMP database is our lifeline. By law, if anyone shows up in a hospital anywhere in Canada without a next of kin, staff must look in this database of missing persons. If a John Doe shows up in a morgue, they are also required by law to look in this database. If these staff search this database, and the missing person isn’t listed, then how will this system work? The families lose their lifeline.

This should matter to EVERY Canadian. How is anyone in Canada safe from a serial killer if police don’t have any data to track where people are going missing? 

It’s tragic that it has taken another serial killer to expose the shortcomings of the current Canadian adult missing persons police protocol. 

Help us change the protocol. 

We propose that police should be required by law to record all reports of missing persons, that all reports should be entered into the RCMP national database, and that all entries should be listed on the RCMP missing persons website. This database should connect city, provincial and national databases as well as the database of unclaimed remains. We also propose that every major city in Canada should create an adult missing persons division in their central Police Department. 

No other families should go through what our family has been through. Please help us create awareness of the current police protocol, and help us create change by signing and sharing this petition.