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9.3 Volunteer Agreements / Releases

Consult competent local legal counsel regarding the desirability and wording of a volunteer agreement and release form. A sample agreement is illustrated in Figure: Volunteer Registration Agreement Form.

A volunteer agreement can serve several purposes:

Gathering complete information on the volunteers is important for several reasons.

Because of this last point, volunteers should present some form of photo ID (e.g. driver's license) when submitting the agreement.

Informing the volunteer of risks and releasing liability is important. It is possible that the search effort is not a formal legal entity. Some states recognize these defacto organizations and provide limited legal protection, others do not. Local counsel should carefully consider the liability release section of the agreement.

Some volunteers may think that, since they are not getting paid, they own the work products they produce during the recovery effort such as press releases, lists of volunteers and resources, and the information on Information Control Forms. Questions of ownership have caused problems on previous searches. It is desirable to clarify this issue before it becomes a problem.

Sensitive information will be handled during the operation of a Recovery Center. For example, mappers will know which areas have been searched and which have not and this information must be kept from the abductor. A medical volunteer may be exposed to medical histories, administrative personnel will compile lists of volunteer names and addresses, debriefers and phone operators will collect tips including names and alleged prior criminal activity, etc. Some of this information will be turned over to law enforcement, and is considered sensitive to the potential legal prosecution of the case. The rest is to be treated as sensitive to respect the privacy of the volunteers and the family.


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