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Keyan
02-04-2009, 03:23 AM
I've set my new book (YA, fantasy) in contemporary San Francisco. The overall quest is to rescue the protag's sister, who has been kidnapped by supernaturals. I'd like some help with what police are likely to do in several situations.

1. The protag's 9-year-old sister goes missing. They find out when, at 2 a.m., the protag's friend calls him to say she's seen the kid with a strange man, walking on the street near her house, and then check to find the child is missing. The kid's dad calls the police.

2. Some days later, the protag and his two friends (including the girl who saw the missing child) call the police when they find a fortune-teller they had an appointment with beaten and tied up, near death. They stay with the injured person until the emergency services people and the police arrive.

3. A few days later, the same kids call the police late at night when a strange beast attacks a homeless man and nearly kills him. They're witnesses, having tried to stop the beast - which disappears when the police show up.

4. A few days later, some outdoor artwork goes missing from Golden Gate Park, and the police wonder if these kids are involved.

What would be the probable police reaction? Best case? Worst case?

In each case, at present, I have the police question the kids and take statements, but not arrest them or call them in to the police station.

The kids are regular kids, 15-17 years old, quite good students, from middle-class professional backgrounds. Their parents own their own homes in San Francisco, but they're not especially wealthy. The kids don't want the police to talk to their parents (except for the first time); their parents will freak out and ground them. They need the freedom to rescue the little girl before it's too late.

Williebee
02-04-2009, 03:24 AM
You might want to PM rugcat. He might be on deadline, so be patient. :)

Horseshoes
02-04-2009, 03:41 AM
Police reaction to missing 9 y.o. is asking to search the house, checking w/ all kids friends, checking known pedophiles in the area, neighborhood canvas, Amber Alert, Crimestoppers.

It's good the kids aren't arrested here...no reason for their arrest based on what you've provided.

The kids have absolutely no permanent means to keep the police from talking to the parents. Best the kids can do is lie about work hours, numbers, etc, if you're looking to delay parental notification/involvement. However, w/ a missing 9 y-o, cops will run down adult guardians pretty quickly, as any potential custodial combatant must be located to r/o that person beong having the kid.

rugcat
02-04-2009, 04:09 AM
I'm currently in SF, but that's not where i did my police stint, so i have no particular knowledge about the specifics of the city. However, things like investigating missing kids don't vary that much between jurisdictions.

Horseshoes, being current, is usually a more reliable source for procedure questions.

Keyan
02-04-2009, 04:23 AM
Police reaction to missing 9 y.o. is asking to search the house, checking w/ all kids friends, checking known pedophiles in the area, neighborhood canvas, Amber Alert, Crimestoppers.

It's good the kids aren't arrested here...no reason for their arrest based on what you've provided.

The kids have absolutely no permanent means to keep the police from talking to the parents. Best the kids can do is lie about work hours, numbers, etc, if you're looking to delay parental notification/involvement. However, w/ a missing 9 y-o, cops will run down adult guardians pretty quickly, as any potential custodial combatant must be located to r/o that person beong having the kid.

Yes, the police do come when the child goes missing, they search the house, they question everyone, they send a team over to the house of the girl who alerted the protag and search the area where she saw the child.

My question really is about the subsequent events. Would the police be really suspicious when the same three teenagers keep showing up? (Though in cases 2 and 3, they're the ones who call the police.) And if so, what would they do about it?

Would the police insist on talking to the parents? At present, they only take the teenagers' contact details, because the youngsters are quite willing to tell the police whatever they know at the scene. Not that they know much. (In the case of the strange creature attacking the homeless man, they know its a supernatural critter, but of course they don't tell the police that. The victim says he was attacked by a bear. In Golden Gate Park.)

The whole story happens in about 10-15 days. At the end of it, the child is returned.

RJK
02-04-2009, 06:18 PM
For the purposes of your story, you could get away with the cops not involving the parents in the subsequent events (after they've talked with them during the child abduction event). If they were to bring them in to the station, they'd have to have a parent present before questioning the juveniles.
There are times when you get your best information from kids. They haven't learned to hide facts that may negatively affect them. Yes the cops will listen to them, as long as the kids aren't trying to BS the cops. Experienced cops can see through that in a heartbeat.

Keyan
02-05-2009, 04:18 AM
For the purposes of your story, you could get away with the cops not involving the parents in the subsequent events (after they've talked with them during the child abduction event). If they were to bring them in to the station, they'd have to have a parent present before questioning the juveniles.
There are times when you get your best information from kids. They haven't learned to hide facts that may negatively affect them. Yes the cops will listen to them, as long as the kids aren't trying to BS the cops. Experienced cops can see through that in a heartbeat.

So the cops might actually prefer not to pull them in, because they're sharing information that they might not do if they had their parents present?

The way it stands at present:

1. After the kid vanishes, the cops come and talk to everyone, including the parents.

2. When the teens call 911 when they find the bloodied and unconscious fortune-teller, the police ask them for any information they have. They also tell them that they can call their parents before talking if they prefer. The teens, having nothing to hide (except from their parents), tell the police whatever they know, which isn't much. The police get names and contact details.

3. When the same teens call 911 late at night from Golden Gate Park, and a homeless man is found savaged apparently by an animal, again the police ask what they saw. They tell the police they heard screams, but don't mention that the attacker was a supernatural beast. The police officer says that it's strange that these kids have been associated with so many crime scenes lately, but lets them go.

4. After the art theft, the same police officer visits the home of one of the kids, and casually asks if they know anything about the theft. The kid offers the police officer a Coke and she accepts. {Would she do that?}

The parent comes home, and allows the officer to look around the home, rather casually. (It's not a full-on, rip-it-apart search - just a look-see.) Nothing is found, and the officer leaves.

Are all these scenarios realistic?

lexxi
02-05-2009, 04:56 AM
The police officer says that it's strange that these kids have been associated with so many crime scenes lately, but lets them go.

In a city as large as San Francisco, is it even likely that the police officers they speak to in 2 and 3 are even aware that these kids were also witnesses in unrelated cases 1 and 2?

Keyan
02-05-2009, 12:33 PM
In a city as large as San Francisco, is it even likely that the police officers they speak to in 2 and 3 are even aware that these kids were also witnesses in unrelated cases 1 and 2?

I don't know, actually. I was assuming that if she entered their names in a database, it would show up; but I may be making a false analogy from traffic stop procedures to crime investigation procedures.