The Metropolitan Police Department’s new social media tactic to help publicize missing person cases sparked national attention last month when a Instagram user compiled some of the department’s missing person fliers and claimed 14 Black girls went missing in a period of 24 hours.

Missing 12-year old Trinity Smith was found in good health by police. (Courtesy photo)

Missing 12-year old Trinity Smith was found in good health by police. (Courtesy photo)

Since the social media frenzy community advocates and local government have been working to solve the District’s missing children issue, although the initial claims were false and there has not been an increase in abductions in the District.

“We have been sounding the alarm and we will continue to do so until all of our missing are found,” Natalie Wilson, co-founder of Black and Missing Foundation, told the AFRO Apr. 3.

Wilson and her sister in law, Derrica Wilson, founded the nonprofit organization in 2008 after noticing that Black missing person cases received little news coverage, in comparison to the publicity of White people going missing.

Wilson said she wanted to help bring public awareness to missing people of color, and lend professional help to families in search of a loved one.

“We wanted to even the playing field,” she said. “We wanted to make sure when our people go missing they are getting fair treatment.”

The foundation uses social media, community forums, personal safety classes and other resources to help prevent disappearances and locate missing minorities.

So far this year there have been 885 reported missing person cases in D.C., according to police reports. More than 20 of those cases remain open.

Wilson said its difficult for families to not have closure when a loved one disappears, “Families want answers. The unknown is tearing them apart.”

The Maryland-based foundation has assisted in locating 200 people with its National Clearinghouse since its launch in 2008.

She said she is happy for the success, but there is still work to be done, “We are grateful, but of course there are way more who are missing that we need bring home.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2016, 37 percent of missing persons were minorities.

Wilson said the percentage was lower when she started her foundation.

Mayor Muriel Bowser launched six initiatives on Mar. 24 in an effort to stem the missing teenager problem in the District.

“One missing young person, is one too many, and these new initiatives will help us do more to find and protect young people, particularly young girls of color, across our city,” Bowser said in announcing the task force.

The initiatives will increase officer staffing and publicity of missing person profiles, as well as assess the root causes of children running away from home in the district.

Wilson agrees that the reasoning behind a child voluntarily leaving home is something that should be investigated.

“We need to dig deeper,” Wilson added. “What are these kids leaving from and what are they running to? That can be even more devastating then what they are leaving.”

D.C. police said most missing people are located within 24 to 48 hours, and there is no indication of individuals being kidnapped or abducted.

On Apr. 3 a 12-year-old Trinity Smith disappeared from Northeast, D.C. She was found two days later by police in good health.