Monday, December 12, 2005

12/12/05 Taking Action--Conclusion

Today’s post concludes discussion of the DOJ’s state model legislation. It does not conclude the series. On Tuesday, I will be making a formal request of you and laying the groundwork on how to proceed for persons who are going to help propel this forward.

Since my last post, we now have interested persons in the following states: TN, FL, CA, MI, and WA.

The model legislation is located on this page:

Today, I ran across a news article online which spoke of the model. Please read it and return.
It is the last post on the thread about missing person Tony Allen:

Let’s continue review of the model:



(A) DEFINITION. A high-risk missing person(s) is an individual whose whereabouts are not currently known and the circumstances indicate that the individual may be at risk of injury or death. The circumstances that indicate that an individual is a “high-risk missing person(s)” include any of the following, but are not limited to:

(1) The person(s) is missing as a result of a stranger abduction;
(2) The person(s) is missing under suspicious circumstances;
(3) The person(s) is missing under unknown circumstances;
(4) The person(s) is missing under known dangerous circumstances;
(5) The person(s) is missing more than thirty (30) days;
(6) The person(s) has already been designated as a “high-risk missing person(s)” by another law enforcement agency;
(7) There is evidence that the person(s) is at risk because:

(A) The person(s) missing is in need of medical attention, or prescription medication;
(B) The person(s) missing does not have a pattern of running away or disappearing;
(C) The person(s) missing may have been abducted by non-custodial parent;
(D) The person(s) missing is mentally impaired;
(E) The person(s) missing is a person under the age of twenty-one;
(F) The person(s) missing has been the subject of past threats or acts of violence.

(8) Any other factor that may, in the judgment of the law enforcement official, determine that the missing person may be at risk.

Regular blog readers will probably think of cases stories they have read in which if the new criteria had been applied, there could have been a change in the outcome. Swift action is needed in these cases. Waiting days, weeks, and sometimes never getting aid, means more cold cases, more families with no answers, and potentially, more criminals running free.


(1) Upon initial receipt of a missing person(s) report, the law enforcement agency shall immediately determine whether there is a basis to determine that the person(s) missing is a high-risk missing person(s);
(2) If a law enforcement agency has previously determined that a missing person(s) is not a high-risk missing person(s), but obtains new information, it shall immediately determine whether the information provided to the law enforcement agency indicates that the person(s) missing is a high-risk missing person(s);
(3) Risk assessments identified in this subsection shall be performed no later than ___ hours after the initial missing person(s) report or the new information was provided to the law enforcement agency.
(4) Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to establish written protocols for the handling of missing person(s) cases to accomplish the purpose of this act.


(1) When the law enforcement agency determines that the missing person(s) is a high-risk missing person(s) it shall notify [specify here the central state agency responsible for handling missing person(s) cases and notifying law enforcement agencies of missing person(s)]. It shall immediately provide to the [specify here the central state agency] the information most likely to aid in the location and safe return of the high-risk missing person(s). It shall provide as soon as practicable all other information obtained relating to the missing person(s) case;
(2) The [specify here the central state agency] shall promptly immediately notify all law enforcement agencies within the State and surrounding region of the information that will aid in the prompt location and safe return of the high-risk missing person(s);
(3) The local law enforcement agencies who receive the notification from the State agency specified in subsection
(2) shall notify officers to “be on the look out” for the missing person(s) or a suspected abductor;

One must wonder how many cases this could effect. I can think of several persons this could have effected which should have been classified as high risk, thus provoking immediate notification.

(4) The responding local law enforcement agency shall immediately enter all collected information relating to the missing person(s) case in available State and Federal databases. If the responding local law enforcement agency does not have the capability to enter this data directly in the State and Federal databases, the [specify the central state agency] shall immediately enter all collected information relating to the missing person(s) case in available State and Federal databases. The information shall be provided to in accordance with applicable guidelines relating to the databases. The information shall be entered as follows:

(A) A missing person(s) report in high-risk missing person(s) cases (and relevant information provided in the report) shall be entered in the National Crime Information Center database immediately, by no more than 2 hours of the determination that the missing person is a high-risk missing person; All other missing person(s) reports (and relevant information provided in the report) shall be entered within one day after the missing person(s) report is received. Supplemental information is high-risk missing person(s) cases should be entered as soon as practicable;
(B) All DNA profiles shall be uploaded into the missing persons databases of the State DNA Index System (SDIS) and National DNA Index System (NDIS) after completion of the DNA analysis and other procedures required for database entry;
(C) Information relevant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program shall be entered as soon as possible.

(5) The [specify the central state agency] shall ensure that person(s) entering data relating to medical or dental records in State or Federal databases are specifically trained to understand and correctly enter the information sought by these databases. The [specify the central agency] is strongly encouraged to either use person(s) with specific expertise in
medical or dental records for this purpose or consult with the [specify here a chief medical examiner, forensic anthropologist, or an odontologist] to ensure the accuracy and completeness of information entered into the State and Federal databases;

It may sound like a mundane chore, but the entering of data into these federal systems in a concise manner is very important. When data is not entered properly, matches that could have occurred do not occur. More families then continue to live in the “not knowing” when there was an answer for them.

(6) Pursuant to any applicable State criteria, local law enforcement agencies should also provide for the prompt use of an Amber Alert or public dissemination of photographs in appropriate high risk cases;

Anyone heard of Erik Buran?

The next section covers UID issues:



(This section states that the central state agency will ensure that local LE have been provided training and/or information in regards to proper death scene handling.)


(A) After performing any death scene investigation deemed appropriate under the circumstances, the official with custody of the human remains shall ensure that the human remains are delivered to [specify here appropriate coroner or medical examiner];
(B) Any person with custody of human remains that are not identified within 24 hours of discovery shall promptly notify the [specify central state agency] of the location of those remains;
(C) If the person with custody of remains cannot determine whether or not the remains found are human, it shall notify the [specify central state agency] of the existence of possible human remains.

This was one of the “fall between the cracks” items discussed in Philadelphia in April. It is rarely required to report these findings to a governing state agency. There were horror stories told about boxes of bones in the back room and even a human skull on a desk!


(1) If the official with custody of the human remains is not a medical
examiner, the official shall promptly transfer the unidentified remains to
the [specify the medical examiner agency qualified to examine human
remains for the purpose of identification] with responsibility for seeking to
determine the identity of the human remains;
(2) Not withstanding any other action deemed appropriate for the handling of
the human remains, the medical examiner shall make reasonable attempts
to promptly identify human remains. These actions may include but not
are limited to obtaining:

(A) Photographs of the human remains (prior to an autopsy);
(B) Dental or skeletal X-rays;
(C) Photographs of items found with the human remains;
(D) Fingerprints from the remains (if possible);
(E) Sample[s] of tissue suitable for DNA typing (if possible);
(F) Sample[s] of whole bone and/or hair suitable for DNA typing;
(G) Any other information that may support identification efforts.

(3) No medical examiner or any other person shall, dispose of, or engage in
actions that will materially affect the unidentified human remains before
the medical examiner obtains—

(A) Samples suitable for DNA identification, archiving;
(B) Photographs of the unidentified person/human remains; and
(C) All other appropriate steps for identification have been exhausted;

(4) Cremation of unidentified human remains is prohibited.

Todd would have been able to bring Alex home if the model had been in place. Remember the pauper’s graves and also the 200 urns buried in the common grave from Todd and Pat’s stories? How many more UID’s are in these two locations alone?

(5) The medical examiner, coroner, or the [agency designated by the central
state law enforcement agency] shall make reasonable efforts to obtain
prompt DNA analysis of biological samples, if the human remains have
not been identified by other means within 30 days.
(6) The medical examiner, coroner, or the [agency designated by the central
state law enforcement agency] shall seek support from appropriate State
and Federal agencies for human remains identification efforts. Such
support may include, but is not be limited to, available mitochondrial or
nuclear DNA testing, federal grants for DNA testing, or Federal grants for
crime laboratory or medical examiner office improvement;
(7) The [medical examiner or other agency designated by central state law
enforcement agency] shall promptly enter information in Federal and State
databases that can aid in the identification of missing person(s).

If I could wave a very powerful magic wand and have all UID’s DNA in the database, plus the DNA of all missing persons or their family members, I wonder how many would then be resolved. How many families would then have their answer? I emphasize that this is no overnight solution, but the longer we delay in taking action to have the magic wand waved, the longer it will be for the answers and the more prolonged the suffering of these families.

Information shall be entered into Federal databases as follows:

(A) Information for the National Crime Information Center within [X]
(B) DNA profiles and information shall be entered into the National
DNA Index System (NDIS) within five business days after the
completion of the DNA analysis and procedures necessary for the
entry of the DNA profile; and
(C) Information sought by the Violent Criminal Apprehension
Program database as soon as practicable.

(8) If medical examiner office personnel do not input the data directly into the
Federal databases, the [specify the central state agency] shall consult with
the medical examiners office to ensure appropriate training of the data
entry personnel and the establishment of a quality assurance protocol for
ensuring the ongoing quality of data entered in the Federal and State
(9) Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to preclude any medical examiner
office, the [central state law enforcement agency], or a local law
enforcement agency from pursuing other efforts to identify unidentified
human remains including efforts to publicize information, descriptions or
photographs that may aid in the identification of the unidentified remains,
allow family members to identify missing person(s), and seek to protect
the dignity of the missing person(s).

I wonder what would happen if an agency did a press release on all UID’s as appropriate, how many more might be identified. We know there are many more UID’s than the ones we hear about.

This is a summary of the model as presented by the DOJ.

Each year families in the United States struggle with the agony of having to report a missing loved one. Far too often, missing persons investigations grow cold leaving many to cope with the loss of a loved one without closure. Historically, law enforcement community’s ability to locate and ensure a safe return of those missing has been hampered by an inability to share resources and information when conducting investigations and identifying remains. This model state legislation seeks to address this significant national problem as it relates to reporting persons as missing and the identification of human remains.

For cases involving missing persons, law enforcement’s ability to locate and ensure a safe return must be improved. This can occur if law enforcement is granted additional tools to identify high-risk missing persons cases and can promptly disseminate critical information to other law enforcement agencies and the public. This model legislation provides a framework for improving law enforcement’s response in this regard.

Sec XXX.1. Missing Person(s) Reports. This section provides a proposed statutory scheme that ensures that missing persons reports are promptly taken by law enforcement. National experts on the issues of missing persons and identification have reported that some law enforcement policies are inadvertently impeding the collection of missing persons information.

Subsections XXX.1(1)–(2) ensure that any family member or interested person will have multiple options available to make a missing persons report. For jurisdictions covering large geographic areas, the legislation may need to require law enforcement agencies to accept missing persons reports by phone.

Subsection XXX.1(3) encourages the collection of specific information that is most likely to aid in the location, swift return, or identification of the missing person. At the same time, this section provides a scheme that allows immediate collection of information likely to be available to the reporting person.

Subsection XXX.1(4) provides for notification to persons making law enforcement reports, family members and loved ones about law enforcement efforts for missing person cases generally and, to the extent appropriate, provides information relating to their specific missing person.

Subsections XXX.1(4)(B)–(C) ensure the collection within 30 days of additional information or samples that can aid in the identification of human remains.

Section XXX.2. Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting of Missing Persons(s) Information. After the collection of critical information, law enforcement agencies need to be able to analyze it promptly to determine whether the missing person is at risk of immediate harm. This section establishes a mechanism for determining high-risk missing persons cases and disseminating critical information to other law enforcement agencies and the public that can help locate the missing person. The dissemination strategy for high-risk cases maximizes the use of national databases, ensures prompt dissemination of information to patrolling officers, and encourages the use of Amber Alerts (proven to be highly effective in promptly locating abducted juveniles).

Specifically, subsections XXX.2(1)(A)–(B) provide a mechanism for promptly making an assessment whether the missing person is a “high-risk missing person.”

Subsection XXX.2(C) provides for the centralized and prompt reporting of a high-risk missing person, the notification of appropriate local law enforcement agencies of the high-risk missing person, and encourages patrolling officers to seek to locate the high-risk missing person and abductor. If the central state agency official in subsection XXX.2(C)(2) is not staffed 24 hours a day, the statute should specify how this notification will be accomplished.

Subsection XXX.2(C)(4) ensures prompt reporting of essential information to national and State databases.

Subsection XXX.2(C)(6) encourages the use of specially trained person who can enter information in the national databases (as national experts have reported that data entry of this forensic and medical information requires specialized training).

Subsection XXX.2(C)(6) also encourages the use of Amber Alerts to locate promptly high-risk missing juveniles.

Section XXX.3. Reporting of Unidentified Persons/Human Remains.
Section XXX.3 and Section XXX.4 together provide a step-by-step approach for improving the collection, analysis and dissemination of information that will aid in the identification of human remains.

Subsection XXX.3(1) seeks to improve death scene investigations through increased dissemination of best practice information, publications and notification of training opportunities.

Subsection XXX.3(2) seeks to ensure that remains are delivered to appropriate agencies and that there is centralized reporting for the state of the existence of unidentified human remains.

Section XXX.4 Unidentified Persons/Human Remains Identification Responsibilities.
Subsection XXX.4(1) seeks to ensure that unidentified remains are transferred to a medical examiners office, as that office would be most likely to possess the expertise necessary for an identification.

Subsection XXX.4(2) ensures reasonable means are pursued by the medical examiner to make an identification.

Section XXX.4.(3) ensures that the remains of unidentified persons are protected from cremation or other actions until the medical examiner conducts an examination and collects of samples to assist in the identification investigation.

Section XXX.4(4) encourages that State agencies to seek available support from appropriate Federal agencies for the identification effort. (Currently, such support is available through the National Institute of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional information relating to available resources can be found at

Section XXX.4(5) and (6) ensures that information critical to identification efforts is entered into existing Federal databases.

Section XXX.4(7) makes clear that other identification efforts should be examined and pursued, if appropriate. For more information on this and other issues, please visit

On Tuesday, I am going to request that you do something you may have never done before in your entire life. I can promise you that doing this will not hurt you. I can also promise that in doing this, you may stop the hurting for someone else.


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