THE MISSING AND UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN AND ADULTS OF PENNSYLVANIA NEED A VOICE! FIGHT FOR LAWS THAT MAKE IT MANDATORY FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT TO FOLLOW STRICT PROTOCOLS FOR MISSING AND UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN AND ADULTS!!
WHY DOES PENNSYLVANIA NEED IT?
PENNSYLVANIA DOES NOT CURRENTLY HAVE ANY LAW, STATUTE OR ADMINISTRATIVE CODE:
· Which dictates missing and unidentified persons policies and procedures
· Which requires law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners to report missing and unidentified persons cases to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
When reported to NCIC, records are retained indefinitely.
· Which requires the prompt gathering of DNA, dental information, fingerprints and radiographs for missing and unidentified persons cases.
· Which requires that all missing and unidentified persons cases be reported to a national database so that they may be cross-referenced with cases throughout the country.
· That implements a statewide database (clearinghouse) to which all Pennsylvania Law Enforcement, medical examiners and coroners are required to report all of their missing and unidentified persons cases.
· That implements the use of a Pennsylvania Missing and Unidentified Persons Non-Profit organization to provide families with instructions, resources, assistance, training and support, as well as, to provide investigating agencies with ancillary investigative support, training, and resources as to ensure that each case is given the proper time and attention.
WHAT WILL IT DO?
Create a Pennsylvania Missing and Unidentified Persons Law that:
· Requires Law Enforcement to accept ALL missing persons reports immediately. There will be NO justifiable reason for a delay.
· Requires Law Enforcement, Medical Examiners and Coroners to IMMEDIATELY submit their report information to NCIC (National Crime Information Center)
· Creates definitive missing and unidentified persons investigative protocols to be adhered to by law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners
· Establishes a Pennsylvania Missing and Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse to which all Pennsylvania law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners are required to report all missing and unidentified persons cases
· Requires that all Pennsylvania law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners report all missing and unidentified persons cases to a national search database (NamUs)
· Defines and Classifies a “HIGH-RISK” missing person
· Requires that law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners obtain primary, secondary and/or familial DNA as soon as possible, and NO LATER than 30 days after a person has been reported missing or found unidentified
· Requires that law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners obtain dental information as soon as possible, and NO LATER than 30 days after a person has been reported missing or found unidentified
When other states currently have effective and efficient protocols in place, and there are a number of COST-FREE governmental resources available, there should be no reason why Pennsylvania cannot also make such an invaluable change. A new protocol would include, but would not be limited to:
* Introduce and enhance DNA submission
* Thorough dental evaluation by Forensic Odontologists
* Through osteological examinations by experienced Forensic Anthropologists
* Centralized national clearinghouse that offers advanced investigative tools such as national cross-referencing and exclusions
* Multiple agencies working hand-in-hand throughout the state, thus greatly increasing the chance of recovery and identification
This petition is an absolutely necessary supplement to a very promising initiative. Thanks to agencies throughout the country, we are receiving excellent support to make this happen! It is our hope to place politics to the side, and submit this petition simply as concerned citizens of our great state.
During our investigations of unidentified human remains, it became obvious that there has to be a way to combine efforts between law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroner office so that Missing and Unidentified Persons cases can be handled in the most timely, thorough and effective way possible. Our searches for how other states deal with this epidemic led us to discover an article written in 2007 by Nancy Ritter from the United States Department of Justice. Within this article, she describes missing and unidentified cases across the nation as the “Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster”. She explains that many of the unidentified decedents represent transients that were victims of homicide, and many are long-term missing adults and children. After reading this article, we reached out to the Joint Initiative to Identify Florida’s Unidentified Deceased. Representatives of the initiative kindly provided their systematic approach in assisting with the “Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster”.
The purpose of Florida’s Initiative, as well as our proposed initiative, is to present new technological resources and assistance to the law enforcement agencies, medical examiner and coroner offices within the state of Pennsylvania. Examples of resources include: the NCIC database, the most advanced DNA database technology for missing and unidentified persons from the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, and the NamUS (National Missing and Unidentified Person System). These are only some resources available to assist in these investigations. These sources are available without cost, and are controlled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They not only provide a systematic approach to these very complex cases, but they broaden the search to the entire nation. It is apparent through Florida’s Initiative, that with a small amount of cooperation and organization, this can only bring positive results to Pennsylvania’s families.
Currently, in the city of Pittsburgh, there is a missing girl named Alivia Kail. Alivia was last spoken to by her brother on March 4, 2011. She was reported missing on March 9, 2011, and has not yet been located. The search has not been limited to Pittsburgh, but has extended itself from Pennsylvania to Florida. This case alone is reason to implement such an initiative. Criminologists everywhere will agree that all information is easier and more reliable when obtained within hours or days of the incident being reported. This does not change when dealing with missing and unidentified persons, as the first 30 days is crucial in the investigations process.
Many other states have followed Florida’s lead, and have developed successful Missing an Unidentified Persons Clearinghouses. We have been in contact with representatives from all of these programs, and have not only received positive feedback about their initiatives, but also many offers to assist us in implementing a clearinghouse for Pennsylvania.
We possess a significant amount of literature and training tools on how this process has worked in other states and how it can be applied to Pennsylvania. We are confident that you will agree that our state should not go any longer without the proper resources to combat against the “Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster”.
Jennifer A. Sullivan
Kelly J. Vay