Are there really dozens of girls 'missing' in Washington, D.C.?

This is a story that's been running below the radar for a few days that is now coming to the fore.  Activists in the nation's capital are complaining that police and the FBI aren't doing enough to investigate what they claim is an epidemic of missing black girls.

Police say it's an illusion, that there is an appearance of an uptick in missing girls because they are posting more reports of the missing on Twitter.  Even the mayor says there has been no increase in the number of missing girls.

But if you should never let a crisis go to waste, you should never pass up a chance to create a crisis if you can make political hay out of it.

USA Today:

In a letter obtained by the Associated Press, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to "devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed."

On social media, people are using the hashtag #MissingDcGirls to voice frustration over lack of media coverage in what  many believe is an uptick in cases of missing black and Latina girls.

"There are so many girls missing , help find them instead of focusing on some football jersey," @Twerkballerina tweeted.

But is there really an increase in missing person cases in the Washington, D.C.-area? The short answer is no, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The police department has simply been using Twitter more often to publicize missing person reports, Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said to clear up the public concern over the youth cases.

Sharing them more on social media is giving the impression the number of cases has increased, he said, when they haven't. He said missing person reports are down so far in 2017.

According to the head of Metropolitan Police Department's Youth and Family Services, over the past five years 200 people have been reported missing each month.

So far in 2017, there have been 190 cases on average.

From 2012 to 2016, officials said 99 percent of all missing person cases have been closed. Out of those 19,000 cases, only 16 remain open.

So where are the kids?  The head of the D.C. police's Youth and Family Services division explained to Fox News:

Commander Chanel Dickerson, who was appointed to head of D.C. police's Youth and Family Services Division, told FOX 5 that "a large number of our missing teens voluntarily leave home and they're found or located within a short time."

In other words, most of the kids who go missing are actually runaways.  This is not unusual in minority communities where socio-economic factors – broken homes, female-headed households, severe poverty, etc. – come into play.  Kids from an unstable home are far more likely to run away than children living in a two-parent household.

For the activists, this is actually bad news.  Their effort to turn the perception of inaction by authorities into a racial issue has been derailed.  It would have been difficult anyway, given that the large majority of political leaders and police in Washington are minority themselves.

With the police and the mayor denying that there is a crisis, it's likely that the issue will fade away.

This is a story that's been running below the radar for a few days that is now coming to the fore.  Activists in the nation's capital are complaining that police and the FBI aren't doing enough to investigate what they claim is an epidemic of missing black girls.

Police say it's an illusion, that there is an appearance of an uptick in missing girls because they are posting more reports of the missing on Twitter.  Even the mayor says there has been no increase in the number of missing girls.

But if you should never let a crisis go to waste, you should never pass up a chance to create a crisis if you can make political hay out of it.

USA Today:

In a letter obtained by the Associated Press, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to "devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed."

On social media, people are using the hashtag #MissingDcGirls to voice frustration over lack of media coverage in what  many believe is an uptick in cases of missing black and Latina girls.

"There are so many girls missing , help find them instead of focusing on some football jersey," @Twerkballerina tweeted.

But is there really an increase in missing person cases in the Washington, D.C.-area? The short answer is no, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The police department has simply been using Twitter more often to publicize missing person reports, Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said to clear up the public concern over the youth cases.

Sharing them more on social media is giving the impression the number of cases has increased, he said, when they haven't. He said missing person reports are down so far in 2017.

According to the head of Metropolitan Police Department's Youth and Family Services, over the past five years 200 people have been reported missing each month.

So far in 2017, there have been 190 cases on average.

From 2012 to 2016, officials said 99 percent of all missing person cases have been closed. Out of those 19,000 cases, only 16 remain open.

So where are the kids?  The head of the D.C. police's Youth and Family Services division explained to Fox News:

Commander Chanel Dickerson, who was appointed to head of D.C. police's Youth and Family Services Division, told FOX 5 that "a large number of our missing teens voluntarily leave home and they're found or located within a short time."

In other words, most of the kids who go missing are actually runaways.  This is not unusual in minority communities where socio-economic factors – broken homes, female-headed households, severe poverty, etc. – come into play.  Kids from an unstable home are far more likely to run away than children living in a two-parent household.

For the activists, this is actually bad news.  Their effort to turn the perception of inaction by authorities into a racial issue has been derailed.  It would have been difficult anyway, given that the large majority of political leaders and police in Washington are minority themselves.

With the police and the mayor denying that there is a crisis, it's likely that the issue will fade away.

RECENT VIDEOS