A Matter of Minutes, Not Days
Some steps to issue a statewide alert once took a full day of coordinating with families, law enforcement, grassroots organizations and news media. Now, if done properly, Gosch says it can be done in less than 10 minutes.
A missing persons report for Williams obtained by Next City through the King County Sheriff’s Department reveals that Gosh emailed Brien about the streamlined process after being contacted by the Williams family. became.
Gosh asked if their agency would be interested in issuing the alert, referring to Special Agents for the Indian Service, part of Secretary of the Interior Deb Harland. The Missing & Murdered Unit also assisted in this search.
However, the local police refused. A King County Sheriff’s Department official responded that Williams’ disappearance “does not appear to qualify for an alert, if I am rightly assuming it has the same criteria as the Amber Alert.” later agreed with the county officials’ assessment.
But MIPA Alert has its own set of minimum reporting criteria that are easier to meet, apart from the Silver or Amber Alerts that also create state patrols. can be enabled as long as they were identified as Indigenous when the case was created and uploaded to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
The grassroots investigation had already begun, so it wasn’t easy for Gosh to sit around and wait. Williams had a documented history of depression and suicide attempts, the report added.
“This case was very difficult for me as a liaison. It was ugly. “I would have gone to get her car and look for her.”
Dawn Poolins (left) and Patti Gosh serve as tribal liaisons for the Washington State Patrol, a state-funded position created through a legislative act passed in 2019. (Photo Credit: Washington State Patrol)
Tribal liaisons on the Washington State Patrol face a tough day every day between the families of missing loved ones and the law enforcement agencies tasked with finding them.
“We are a clearing house. We have no jurisdiction over these missing persons,” Pullin says. “What Patty and I are doing is helping bridge the communication gap between families and law enforcement.”
Gosh’s concerns were echoed less than a day later by the Attorney General’s policy analyst, Annie Forsman Adams. Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and People Task Force. She also consulted Brien Police and confirmed that their department was aware that the MIPA went into effect just one week after her disappearance.
When local police reiterated why the alarm system was not applied in this case, Forsman-Adams clarified that an alarm would be created even if the missing indigenous people were not endangered. It’s even possible that having the alerts enabled spurred a search to find her sooner.
We considered issuing a second MIPA within 48 hours, but ultimately decided against it. But Burien strategically sent the Crime Analysis Unit’s internal bulletins to several agencies.
Police chief Boe says he’s worried that releasing MIPA too soon will undermine the clues, cause her to escape, and put her safety at risk. The family, who was suffering at the time, also supported the decision.
Williams also gave occasional updates to friends via Snapchat on a borrowed phone. It was another reason I didn’t launch MIPA for fear of losing her completely.
“There was real momentum in this investigation. At the very least, the thought process that led to this supports that it was continuously moving to get her home,” the city said of Williams’ case. “I think that was the mindset we had from the beginning. Getting Gracie home was our number one priority. The right tools at the right time.” We were trying to do everything we could to expand.”
Williams’ family just couldn’t wait for her to come back. They shared the news on social media and distributed flyers. Countless photos of the smiling girl have appeared on her social media platforms. The elders of Makaha rushed to help find their missing daughter.
Scourge groups of grassroots search parties are all too well known in Washington because of the endemic disappearance of the region’s indigenous peoples. . Search parties can often find missing persons before law enforcement can.
When an indigenous search party, consisting of Williams’ parents and several friends, tracked the teen to Olympia, more than 50 miles from where she reportedly went missing, they eventually found out. Got her back without a police escort. After Williams visited a hospital near Olympia, she came home. Her mother said Williams doesn’t remember much from those days, raising concerns that she was under the influence of drugs.
It was a harrowing ordeal felt by the whole family and one that could haunt them for years to come. Hundreds of other cold cases of Washington Natives disappearing and never coming back. And the mother didn’t hesitate to share her personal relationship with Next City in hopes that other parents and law enforcement could also learn from their struggles.
“This could have been avoided,” says Williams Holden. “What can we do for the next child to make life a little easier for the next mom, dad, and family?”