WASHINGTON - It is a story FOX 5 has been covering ever since D.C. began to raise awareness that such a staggering number of minors especially teenagers were missing in our area. Since then, the story has not only picked up our community’s attention, but it has now gained national traction.
Since the beginning of 2017, D.C. police began to publicize the name and faces of those “critical missing” – a large number of them are juveniles and females. FOX 5 was first to sit down with the newly-appointed Commander Chanel Dickerson of D.C. police’s Youth and Family Services Division, which is tasked with getting to the bottom of each case.
“I don’t know what is going on, but it is definitely a deeper issue,” said Commander Dickerson.
National media publications such as Teen Vogue and Essence are now also shedding light on the viral tweets, citing FOX 5 for its reporting on an issue some think has gone underreported.
“The numbers are alarmingly high,” said Derrica Wilson, the co-founder and president of the Black and Missing Foundation.
Back in February, Dickerson appeared to allude to the uptick in cases. But on D.C. police’s Twitter account, there are multiple responding tweets from the department saying, “There isn't a spike in missing people in DC, we're just using social media more to help locate them. Sorry to alarm you.”
There isn't a spike in missing people in DC, we're just using social media more to help locate them. Sorry to alarm you @__SoulFlower— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) March 9, 2017
“So to say that it is not an uptick in the number of kids that are going missing -- to see that ten children go missing within two weeks, that right there is alarming in itself,” said Wilson.
Even more alarming is what could really be behind the disappearances.
“When I think about Relisha Rudd, I think that she was sold and that is a name that hasn't come up lately,” said Wilson. “But I think that we really need to take a hardcore look at all these kids that are missing even though there has not been any indication that they are involved in human trafficking. I think the follow up is going be so important to find out why did they leave.”
D.C. police has told FOX 5 they are working with youth services to try to determine if in fact there is an uptick in missing children.