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A woman who survived more than a decade in captivity was removed from the FBI's National Crime Information Center database a little more than a year after she vanished. Michelle Knight was abducted August 23, 2002; the Cleveland police removed Knight from the database in November 2003 after failing to locate a parent, guardian, or other reporting person to confirm Knight was still missing.
"That was a policy decision made earlier. Since then, our policies have changed. They've been updated, and that would no longer happen. But since we could not contact a family member for verification and the results of her age, she was taken out of that database,"said Ed Tomba, Cleveland's deputy chief of police.
But, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the department's own policy at the time of Knight's disappearance stated that an officer must go and see that a missing person has been found, then inform the FBI within two hours for removal from the database.
Neighbors of Ariel Castro, the man who held Knight and two other women captive for more than nine years, told CNN they called police, flagging suspicious activity. But the department has said no neighbors have ever called the police with a tip on Castro's house.
"We have searched and searched all of our computer-aided dispatch for any assignments to that house, and any other reason that the police were dispatched there. The police did not respond to that location," said Tomba.
There is a history of accusations that the Cleveland Police Department does not take the complaints and concerns of people in low-income neighborhoods as seriously as calls from more affluent areas. Nearly 37% of people in Castro's zip code live under the poverty line.
"I can tell you that I’ve been a member of this division for 28 years, and that the members of the division of police take all the calls very serious, and we provide a service to our community," said Tomba.
Tomba said he was involved with Gina DeJesus' disappearance early on. In the wake of the three women's successful escape, Tomba said the police department reviewed some of its older case files, looking at the amount of staff hours, and resources that were put into the investigation early on to locate Gina.
It "was just amazing, the work that the men and women did," said Tomba. "The men and women of the division of police are committed to the community as a whole no matter where they live, low income or any other parts of the city, we're committed to serve the citizens of the city of Cleveland."