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Gannon's Law: Petition calls for change in how law enforcement handles missing children

Posted at 6:25 AM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 08:28:30-05

A petition has been launched in an effort to create a new law that would require missing children to be immediately listed as missing and endangered, even if a caregiver indicates a runaway situation.

The Gannon's Law Petition on change.org calls for a nationwide change to law enforcement procedure.

Gannon Stauch, 11, was first reported missing on January 27, 2020, as a runaway. Three days later, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said they considered him a missing and endangered child.

"The reporting party, who was Gannon's stepmom, called 911 to report Gannon was last seen by her between 3:15 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 to go to a friend's house," the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "Information received during this call guided the call taker to type code this call as a runaway. Gannon's information was entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC) approximately 30 minutes after the initial call as a runaway."

Those behind the petition say the delay in listing Gannon as missing and endangered cost valuable time in gathering and following up on leads in his case.

The petition says in Colorado, and in most other states, it's not safe to leave an 11-year-old alone and unsupervised for more than three hours.

The petitioners say they applaud the work law enforcement has done to bring Gannon home, but they believe the first few hours were crucial in finding evidence to bring him home.

The petition aims to change law enforcement procedures so that in the future, a child Gannon's age would automatically be listed as missing and endangered after no more than three hours missing without contact.

When asked about the potential strain such a law would place on law enforcement, the organizer of the petition, Taran Witt, said it woudn't be a concern.

"If it does, then that's okay. This law is about bringing children home safely, so if that means that there's a little bit more pressure on law enforcement, then so be it," Witt said.

To learn more about Colorado Bureau of Investigation's alerts, visit this link.

This story was originally published by KOAA in Colorado Springs, Colorado.