BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Chief Greg Terry with the Bakersfield Police Department joined 17 News at Sunrise Wednesday to discuss missing persons cases and the rising rates of homicides in Kern County.
Terry said the spread of information on social media about missing persons cases is crucial to finding most runaway cases quickly.
“We experience about 250 runaways every month to the Bakersfield Police Department,” Terry said. ” The vast majority of these leave their home after a dispute or an argument with a sibling or a parent or simply just to go hang out with their kids.”
Terry said there are several risk factors for teens and kids that run away including:
- The frequency in which kids run away,
- Issues inside or outside the home that may be causing the behavior,
- If it is their first time running away,
- If they have certain health issues or
- If they are under the age of 12.
Terry said while most return very quickly, there are some that are still living on the streets as a part of the homeless population in Bakersfield.
“Runaways and missing children are also the most exploited among sex traffickers and predators and so it’s very important that we find them as quickly as we can,” Terry said.
Aside from runaways, Terry said that Bakersfield has experienced 53 homicides so far this year, a new record compared to last year which saw 45. But Terry said Bakersfield is not unique.
“Most of the large cities in the United States last year experienced record levels of violence and that has continued into 2021 and unfortunately we’re no different,” Terry said.
Terry said that while gang-related and gun violence is still prominent, another emerging common denominator among homicides is drugs.
“Whether you’re in possession of drugs, you’re selling drugs, you’re involved in a transaction with drugs and there’s a dispute; but drugs seem to be at the center of our homicides,” Terry said.