Winnipeg police search for up to 60 missing youth per day

Up to 60 a day: that’s the number of missing Winnipeg youth police are searching for on a daily basis.

Missing Persons Unit tasked with tracking down kids with substance abuse problems, police say

Det.-Sgt. Shaunna Neufeld with the Winnipeg Police Service's Missing Persons Unit said officers are tasked with the challenge of locating 45 to 60 missing kids in the city every day so each case has to be prioritized. 2:07

Every day police have a large number of kids they're trying to find.

Det.-Sgt. Shaunna Neufeld with the Winnipeg Police Service's Missing Persons Unit said officers are tasked with the challenge of locating 45 to 60 missing kids in the city every day so each case has to be prioritized.

“We look at all the risk factors and totality of every case and those change. Those priorities change on a daily basis based on our needs,” said Neufeld.

Neufeld said while not every case is made public through the media, every case is taken seriously.

“It’s a process of pounding the pavement, quite often talking to people, making phone calls, going to various places and trying to piece together where they were last,” said Neufeld. 

Neufeld said the unit is thrilled when a child is found, but often it's not the end of the issues for the child or the family.
Police went door to door in Winnipeg's West End Wednesday morning asking neighbourhood residents for information regarding Tina Fontaine's disappearance and death. They are tasked with locating 45 to 60 missing kids from Winnipeg a day (Karen Pauls/CBC)

"Not always all joy because someone's found," said Neufeld. "There's still work that needs to be done and a lot of people need to kind of work together to make things better for some of these youth."

Some youth may be on the lam, evading police because of warrants, said Neufeld. Others have addiction issues.

"We have a ton of youth in our city that are addicted to crystal meth or using crack cocaine, use alcohol on a regular basis,” said Neufeld. “We're looking at: are they suicidal, do they have any history of suicide attempts?"

Many of the kids also run away so they can feed their addiction, Neufeld said.

"With some of these youths within a day or two of them being returned to their placement they're gone again and you know, there are tough issues that we kind of grapple with. A lot of these kids have addiction issues."

The case of Tina Fontaine has shaken her unit, Neufeld said.