HELENA — The Montana Department of Justice has announced the hiring of its next statewide missing persons specialist.
Brian Frost started in the position on Monday. He has worked for the department for more than ten years – the last 3 ½ working on Montana’s Criminal Justice Information Network and Missing Persons Clearinghouse. He provided missing persons training to law enforcement officers and, especially in recent years, members of the public.
“One of the things that I’ve really found is a benefit of working with the Clearinghouse is seeing how much community support is out there, and that people do take this seriously,” Frost said.
Frost said, in his new role, he wants to keep educating communities about the support that is available in missing persons cases – and about the misconceptions that often surround those cases. He said one main myth he wants to dispel is that someone must wait 24 hours or more before reporting a missing person.
“For us, you’re going to talk to your friends, your family, you’re going to try to find that loved one before you call law enforcement, and that’s all perfectly reasonable – but just remember that there is no waiting period, and that people should call right away if a loved one is missing,” he said.
Frost also said he wants to remind people that law enforcement is still handling missing persons cases as they always have, despite the restrictions linked to COVID-19. He said they have not seen any overall trend in the number of active cases since the pandemic began, but that there have been a number of missing youth reported in recent weeks. Many of them have since been found safely.
Frost is taking over for DOJ’s first missing persons specialist, Misty LaPlant, who announced her resignation last month. The position was created last year, when Montana lawmakers approved House Bill 21 – known as “Hanna’s Act.” It was one of a package of bills aimed at addressing issue of missing and murdered indigenous people in the state.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse was tracking 152 active missing persons cases that had been reported to law enforcement. 26% of those were indigenous persons.
“I want to reach out and just let everybody know: It doesn’t matter what race, what religion, anything like that – if you have a loved one missing, reach out and we’ll see if we can help,” Frost said. “Make sure that you are reporting it to law enforcement; we take all missing persons cases seriously.”