Police face challenges in locating missing teenagers

Because many reports of missing teens are often runaway situations, there is very little police can do to bring them home. (Jim Nelson/WNWO).

Since the beginning of the year, Toledo Police have listed ten juveniles as missing on its social media platforms.

"Chief Kral has really made a push to get the awareness out there on the missing (persons) so that's probably why you're seeing more of them on our social media," said Lt. Joe Heffernan.

But he adds department says in many of those cases, there is very little they can do to track them down. Running away from home is considered a crime, but Heffernan says those cases aren't likely to get the department's full load of resources.

He says there are factors that go into deciding how the department chooses which cases to spend more time on.

"If they're 13 years of age or younger, that automatically moves it up to a priority for us."

He says a major reason for that is because it's a target demographic for human traffickers. Heffernan says additional factors come into play like whether or not the juvenile is thought to be involved in a crisis or if they require certain medications and/or have special needs.

"The street is a dangerous place for these kids. We're going to do the best we can to get them off the street into a safe situation."

Lt. Heffernan adds that it's often times after the juveniles return home or are located that the department can play its biggest role. For instance, if there is trouble at home or an unsafe home environment, TPD can work with the county to find a more suitable alternative.

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