NAPO VICTORY! HOUSE PASSES THE “HELP FIND THE MISSING ACT”

On February 23, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the NAPO-endorsed “Help Find the Missing Act (Billy’s Law),” H.R. 3695; a bipartisan bill sponsored by Congressmen Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Ted Poe (R-TX) that would address and fix the gaps in our nation’s missing persons systems. 

 

While federal law mandates state and local law enforcement report missing children, there are no such requirements for adults or unidentified bodies.  Compounding this problem is the fact that local law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and coroners often do not have the resources, personnel or training to voluntarily report these cases.  Furthermore, even when missing adults and remains are reported, finding a match can be a significant challenge because existing federal, state, local and non-profit databases for missing and unidentified bodies are not connected.

 

H.R. 3695 addresses these issues by authorizing the Department of Justice’s National Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and connecting it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Information Center (NCIC).  This will make missing persons and unidentified remains databases more comprehensive as well as streamline the reporting process for local law enforcement.  Additionally, the legislation provides incentive grants to assist state and local law enforcement report missing persons and unidentified remains to NCIC, NamUs, and the National DNA Index System (NDIS).  These provisions not only increase accessibility to NamUs, but also facilitate data sharing between NamUs and NCIC.

 

NAPO thanks Congressmen Murphy and Poe for their leadership in passing this important legislation.  NAPO looks forward to working with Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who is expected to champion the legislation in the Senate.  We hope the Senate acts quickly to pass H.R. 3695 so that our nation’s law enforcement have the resources and information necessary to efficiently and effectively serve and protect our communities.