The MMCC's primary areas of focus are:
- Information dissemination
- Training development and delivery to law enforcement and community groups
- Data collection
- Technical assistance in cases of missing and exploited children
The MMCC maintains a strong liaison with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), other missing-child clearinghouse across the nation, local law enforcement, school departments, and community organizations.
Mission of the MMCC:
The MMCC is intended to serve as the state central repository of information on missing children from Massachusetts or missing children believed to be in Massachusetts. The primary objectives of the clearinghouse will be to collect, store, and disseminate information on missing and potentially exploited children.
The information collected will be disseminated to assist law enforcement agencies, public and private organizations, and the communities of the Commonwealth to help locate and recover missing children.
The Clearinghouse will strive to:
- Enhance communication between law enforcement jurisdictions
- Provide guidance to law enforcement and social service agencies on how to better respond to and locate missing children
- Encourage and expand community participation in locating missing children
History of the MMCC:
The Commonwealth's efforts towards missing children are governed by Mass. Gen. Laws. ch.22A. The statute creates a state-wide central register for all available data on any child deemed missing. The central register is managed by the executive director of the Criminal History Systems Board with the advice and consent of the Colonel of the State Police.
Upon notification of a missing child, any police officer or law enforcement official must immediately enter all available and relevant information into the central register. Other state agencies dealing with children's issues, including but not limited to the Department of Children and Family (DCF) and Department of Youth Services (DYS) are required, by statute, to report any missing children to this central register, as it is intended to be a one-stop clearinghouse for all missing children information in the state.
The impetus for the Legislature to pass Chapter 22A was two federal statutes compelling states to create these types of central registries for missing children information. The Missing Children Act of 1982 was the first federal law to address missing children on a national scale. This Act requires the United States Attorney General to collect and organize any information that could assist in locating a missing child.
Congress acted again in 1984 by passing the Missing Children's Assistance Act. This Act was broad in its authorization of a national clearinghouse and toll-free telephone number for reports and information on missing children. Congress designated the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit organization, as the public repository for all missing children data. The Act also authorized grant money for states to establish and manage their own statewide clearinghouses for missing children information.
Less than two months after the passage of the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 22A. A 1996 amendment to M.G.L. 22A placed authority over the central register with the executive director of the Criminal History Systems Board. A 1997 amendment to the statute clarified the meaning of the word "person," as part of the statute applies to missing adults as well as minors.
In 1990, Congress passed the National Child Search Assistance Act requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to report missing children to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) of the Department of Justice (DOJ). That information must also be made available to the state's central register on missing children. State and local law enforcement must update their state clearinghouse and the DOJ with any additional information such as medical and dental records within sixty days of an initial missing child report.
An important provision of the National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990 was the outlawing of any waiting periods imposed by local law enforcement before the acceptance of a missing child report. Massachusetts complies with this by requiring the immediate entry of any missing child report into the state central register and for local law enforcement to begin an immediate search for a child.