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Solving the Missing Indigenous Person Data Crisis: NamUs 2.0

NCJ Number
253100
Date Published
Author(s)
B.J. Spamer, Danielle Weiss, Charles Heurich
Annotation
This article explains how the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) can improve searches for missing American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), for whom there is currently a lack of data to aid in searches.
Abstract
Under funding from the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ), NamUs uses powerful technology and forensic services to resolve missing and unidentified person cases across the nation. It has the potential to give tribal law enforcement agencies and tribal leaders data on the nature and number of missing persons within their communities and beyond tribal jurisdictions. Users of the NamUs 2.0 system can store, search, and compare case information in finding data connections and investigative leads. The forensic services provided through NamUs include fingerprint examination, odontology, DNA analysis, and forensic anthropology. It enables advanced searching to locate matching demographics, descriptors, and other distinctive characteristics of a missing or unidentified person. It is capable of the automatic comparison of cases based on geography, dates, and physical features; and advanced mapping tools enable users to generate customized case maps that include geographic landmarks, such as Indian Reservation borders. The effectiveness of NamUs is facilitated by an experienced staff, which provides investigative support, forensic services, case analysis, and support for families who are searching for missing family members. Since its creation, NamUs has been used to resolve 358 AI/AN missing-person cases, and it is currently supporting 385 active, unsolved cases of missing AI/AN persons. It is critical that data on every missing and unidentified AI/AN person is entered into NamUs.
Date Created: July 11, 2019