We all read the frequent headlines about people going missing here in East Idaho.
In most cases, the missing are teenagers who've run away from home.
In almost every one of these missing teen cases, the reason you're hearing about it at all from the local media is because the teens' families have contacted the media requesting coverage.
Local law enforcement agencies usually do not issue any press releases about the teens going missing and the only searching being done is by the teens' families.
The same is true for missing adults, such as Ariel Arellano, the 22-year-old Pocatello man reported missing by his family earlier this month and then found dead near a City Creek trail on Tuesday night.
Pocatello police took the report from Arellano's family that he was missing and didn't do anything to publicize it.
Such handling of a case involving a missing teen or adult by law enforcement is unfortunately the norm in East Idaho.
In contrast, Chubbuck police were quick about relaying information to the media and the public about missing Highland High School student Jennifer Schwindt, and the Bingham County Sheriff's Office did the same with missing Blackfoot High School student Kynley Diann Wright.
As a result, Wright is back with her family. The search for Schwindt continues with the assistance of the media and public thanks to the notification received from the Chubbuck Police Department.
Unfortunately, the decisions by Chubbuck police and the Bingham County Sheriff's Office to alert the media and public about these missing girls are the exceptions.
There are certainly reasons why local law enforcement agencies don't do much to engage the media and public in searches for missing teens. Many of the teens have run away from home numerous times and always wind up returning. Unless there's evidence to the contrary, police often seem to think missing adults will eventually turn up safe and unharmed at some point as well.
We understand that launching an all-out search for every missing teen or adult would require a ton of law enforcement resources. Especially when it comes to runaways, these cases occur so frequently that there aren't enough local police officers and sheriff's deputies to conduct the searches and respond to the plethora of other emergency calls that occur in East Idaho.
But local law enforcement agencies could easily alert the media and public about missing people and the fact they often don't puts the lives of the missing in peril.
The worst-case scenario of course is what happened in Pocatello during the 1970s and 1980s when adolescent and teenage girls began to go missing and the police brushed off most of those cases as juveniles running away from home. It wasn't until bodies started turning up that the police realized they were dealing with girls being abducted and murdered. Most of those cases were never solved.
Idaho State Police keep track of every missing person case in Idaho, and as of Friday there were over 100 individuals listed as missing in the state. The vast majority of those cases involve missing teens and adults and most are never publicized by law enforcement.
That needs to change.
Local law enforcement agencies do an outstanding job of putting out the word to the media and public when a young child is reported missing. Press releases are immediately sent out and officers drop whatever they're doing to help in the search.
But when the missing person is older than a young child, the search is much less intense — or even non-existent — and there's often no effort to alert the media and public.
In those cases, the families of the missing can either hope against hope that their loved ones somehow return on their own or the families can take it upon themselves to get the word out.
That's unacceptable considering we have many local law enforcement agencies that could easily issue press releases about the public needing to be on the lookout for the missing person.
It would literally take our law enforcement agencies a few minutes to write up a short press release about a missing person and hit the send button to get the news out to East Idaho's media outlets. Releasing such information sooner as opposed to not at all will without a doubt help locate many of those reported missing.
The media and public without a doubt want to help law enforcement find missing people but law enforcement in most cases isn't giving any of us a chance to help by not letting us know about missing teens and adults.
The families of missing people deserve better than having to personally contact the media to get help.
The world can be a scary place and perhaps no one knows that better than our local law enforcement officers. That being said, they need to expect the worst when they're notified about a missing person rather than simply hoping that individual turns up OK at some point in the future.
We have no doubt that our local law enforcement agencies are dedicated to their mission of protecting and serving the citizens of East Idaho. Our local police officers and sheriff's deputies put their lives on the line to do that every shift.
We're only asking that when it comes to missing people, those men and women who represent that thin blue line always enlist the media and public's help and do so immediately.
Such quick action will without a doubt save lives.