Missing Persons Investigations

Missing persons and runaway cases are among the most challenging assignments that a peace officer faces. The officer responding to a missing persons call is confronted with locating a person(s) as quickly and safely as possible while dealing with difficult legal and emotional issues. This manual includes the information and guidance that officers and field supervisors need to successfully investigate missing persons cases.

The POST Missing Persons Guidelines were updated in May 2021, pursuant to Penal Code 13519.07. The manual is divided into four sections:

  • Missing Persons Categories/Definitions
  • Guidelines for Handling Missing Persons Investigations
  • Course Outline Guide for Missing Person Investigations
  • References and Investigative Resources

Most hyperlinks in the first three sections will direct the reader to specific locations within this manual. Links in Section Four: References are directed to locations on the Web. The full Missing Persons document, and the individual forms, may be downloaded by selecting from the following links:



The Commission intends this manual not only as a guide for investigation, but also as a resource for developing additional training curriculum. The manual is also intended to be used as a basis for creating departmental policies.