Faces of the AMBER Alert Network: Arizona
Arizona Detective Relies on Relationships to Find Abducted Children
Detective Sergeant Patrick Beumler is the Family Violence/ Missing Persons Supervisor for the Glendale, Arizona, Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division Special Victim’s Unit. He has served with the Glendale Police Department for more than 19 years. Beumler is an Arizona POST Domestic Violence Investigations Trainer and recipient of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Distinguished Service Award for his assistance implementing the Domestic Violence Strangulation Program in 2013. In 2014, he received the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership Award for First- Line Supervisor Training on Violence Against Women.
Sgt. Beumler was one of the original founding members of the Arizona Child Abduction Response Team (AZCART) in 2011. He has been deployed across the state of Arizona on various abduction and at-risk missing child investigations as an AZCART investigator. In 2018 he became the State Coordinator for AZCART where he currently serves until the end of his term on July 1, 2019.
WHAT IS UNIQUE TO YOUR CART AND MISSING PERSONS PROGRAM, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK HELPS MAKE YOUR PROGRAMS SUCCESSFUL?
Having a single overarching state coordinating agency for AZCART, with one Southern Branch coordinating agency and hopefully soon a Northern Branch coordinating agency. They are all under the same certification, which helps ensure training, investigative practices, forms and other protocols are uniform and consistent. This also helps large-scale deployments succeed because any certified employee can be assigned to any role needed. Each member is familiar with the documents, investigative techniques, software and other best practices being utilized so we are able to efficiently assist the jurisdictional agency requesting our help. Having branches allows for a quick response of personnel and resources for critical investigations.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO FIND MISSING AND ABDUCTED CHILDREN?
I have three young children myself and that makes it easy for me to put myself into a parent’s shoes; I would want to know everything possible is being done to recover my child safely and quickly. I am also driven in abduction cases to see that offenders are held accountable. It is also key to ensure we are conducting lawful and efficient investigations that collect and preserve evidence.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN MAINTAINING THE EFFECTIVENESS AND STRENGTH OF YOUR PROGRAMS?
Deployments rarely happen at an opportune time, so the location, time of day and the number of responders may be less than ideal for the investigation. Members belong to the team on a voluntary basis, so their primary duty can sometimes hinder the number of responders or the timing of the response.
We rotate the coordinating agency for the program on a yearly basis, so a new agency may find it challenging in getting organized internally for taking on the responsibility of preparing equipment and personnel. Another challenge can be maintaining an emphasis on training and skill building so current members remain ready for a deployment. It can also be difficult for the coordinating agency to balance its primary duties with the responsibility of growing the program and attracting new member agencies.
Turnover can also be a challenge as AZCART trained personnel transfer positions or promote out of a position. Trying to replace that knowledge base can be difficult at times.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN WITH YOUR PROGRAMS IN THE FUTURE? WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE PROGRAMS?
I would like to see our Northern Branch get established and off the ground. We do have some interested agencies, so I see it as an attainable opportunity. My vision for the program is that eventually we will have a state or federal funding source to facilitate dedicated equipment, training and other resources for certified child abduction response teams and their members.
PLEASE SHARE DETAILS ABOUT YOUR MOST MEMORABLE SUCCESS STORY IN WORKING A MISSING CHILD CASE. HOW DID THE AMBER ALERT AND OTHER OPERATIONS SUPPORT THE OUTCOME? WHAT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED?
Every safe recovery of a child is a success story for us. Unfortunately, one of the most memorable missing child cases we had is one where there never was a recovery. The Jhessye Shockley investigation started as a reported abduction which resulted in an AMBER Alert being activated; however, it soon transitioned into a FACA (false allegation of child abduction) case to cover up the homicide of Jhessye.
AZCART, Team ADAM from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI and other partners assisted with various aspects of the investigation that included a landfill search lasting several months. This investigation was a great accomplishment because of the team work between agencies and in the end a successful “no body” homicide investigation which resulted in a life sentence plus 20 years for Jhessye’s mother. Many lessons were learned which led to the formulation of timeline/checklists and standardizing the information we now use on any at-risk missing or abduction case.
HOW HAVE YOUR CAREER AND LIFE EXPERIENCES STRENGTHENED YOUR COMMITMENT TO HELPING ENDANGERED, MISSING AND ABDUCTED CHILDREN?
My commitment to helping endangered, missing and abducted children has been strengthened by the connections I have made with the people I met in this position. I have a strong network of people I can count on for assistance and information. I also know the people I have trained are ready to do the job when called upon.
HOW HAS TRAINING HELPED YOU IN AMBER ALERT CASES?
Uniform training has helped keep responders on the same page with protocols, practices and expectations for an AMBER Alert case all across the state.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER AMBER ALERT PARTNERS?
Ensure training and oversight committee meetings occur at least quarterly so you see each other’s faces, practice working through issues together and so that everyone stays up-to-date on what’s going on elsewhere in the state. This allows you to take that information back to your agency and improve your responses.