National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
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National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, abbreviated as NamUs, is a clearing house for missing persons and unidentified decedent records in the United States, a part of the Department of Justice. NamUs also provides free DNA testing and other forensic services, such as anthropology and odontology assistance.
In 2005, the National Institute of Justice assembled for a national strategy meeting regarding missing persons in the United States; they called the meeting "Identifying the Missing Summit." Forensic scientists, policymakers, victim advocates and law enforcement officials discussed the challenges and strategies for solving missing person cases and identifying unidentified decedent cases. From there the Deputy Attorney General created a task force, The National Missing Persons Task Force, and encouraged the U.S Department of Justice to find prominent tools that will help solve these cases. NamUs was created, subsequently.
The NamUs database was created in three phases; in Phase III, released in 2009, the system became fully searchable and open to the public.
Through NamUs, users will have access to three databases: Unidentified Persons database, Missing Persons database and an UnClaimed Persons database.
In the database users can search by state, date last seen, circumstances, physical/medical characteristics, clothing and accessories, sex, ethnicity, race and more, in order to locate or search for a potential match or personal profile. Each missing person and unidentified person have their own four digit code number. If a potential match is found, users can notify and submit the potential match to case managers, local law enforcement agencies or NamUs regional administrators. If a potential match has been ruled out it will appear on the unidentified person's profile, under the section "exclusions."
The issue of unidentified remains in the United States has been coined "the Nation's Silent Mass Disaster." There are approximately 40,000 unidentified human remains that have been buried or cremated before being identified. Furthering the problem of identification, in 2004, less than half of the nation's medical examiner's offices had policies for retaining DNA, x-rays, or fingerprints of unidentified persons. Another issue that has left remains unidentified has been the reporting of missing persons. Those who go missing over the 18 are not required to be reported - reporting them is voluntary. Consequently, there has been a low rate of reported adult cases through NCIC (the National Crime Information Center). Ultimately NamUs is working together with the public and national level databases to incorporate the records of missing persons and meet the challenges of non-reporting.
Currently, there have been 16,080 missing person cases on file through NamUs. As of 23 February 2014[update], 60.46%, or 9,723 of them remain open and unsolved. Of the closed cases, 665, or 10.46%, have been closed through the aid of the NamUs database.
Furthermore, there have been 10,714 unidentified persons cases on filed through NamUs. As of 23 February 2014[update], 88.66%, or 9,500, remain open and unidentified. Of the closed cases, 285, or 23.495, have been closed through the aid of the NamUs database.