ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — In the past few weeks, FOX8 has received several missing persons reports.

Some have had happy endings. Others have tragic endings. In some cases, the kids haven’t been found yet. In every case, law enforcement has responded in a different way, and many of you have asked why.

FOX8 spoke with several law enforcement officers around the Piedmont Triad Monday evening. They all say you should report your child missing as soon as you notice they’re gone. There’s no need to wait. In fact, it can make it more difficult for law enforcement if you do.

The first thing you should if your child disappears is call 911. It’s helpful for investigators if you have a recent photo and know your child’s height, weight and birthday as well as what they were wearing and when you last saw them.

A picture of 17-year-old Cody Brammer was used to help the community look for him. Alamance County deputies posted it on social media as teams of search crews used drones, ATVs and K9s to look in a one-mile radius around his home on Darrell Davis Road.  

“If you are a caregiver or parent of someone, I don’t care what the age is, if they are under your care, they go missing, call immediately because we are going to mobilize immediately,” said Byron Tucker, a spokesperson with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office.

Under federal law, law enforcement cannot require you to wait a certain amount of time before taking a missing childs report. The cases are treated as missing persons as soon as they come in, and the investigation begins immediately.

Here’s how Brammer’s case was handled.

“It started off with a call to our 911 center who then called us that Cody was missing,” Tucker said. “Our sheriff’s office investigators went out and spoke with the family then we called on resources from Alamance County Emergency mManagement, who then rallied more troops to come in.”

While law enforcement officers encourage you to call immediately, they do admit each missing person case is handled differently.

If the child left in a car, law enforcement will put out a BOLO for the victim and vehicle.

If the child walked away, typically, detectives will look for surveillance video in the area the child was last seen and call in K9s to track the child’s scent if other searches have not contaminated the area.

If a child is considered an elevated risk, they’ll expand the investigation and use all appropriate resources.

These are some of what makes a person an elevated risk:

  • they are 12 or younger
  • have a cognitive disability or drug dependency
  • are in life-threatening situation like being near a busy highway or body or water

“It doesn’t matter what you think it may be, we would rather you call us and let us investigate than it have been something, and we didn’t have a chance to investigate,” Tucker said.

The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons has a nationwide phone number available 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-522-kids to report a missing child.