Monday, March 8, 2010

Billy's Law: Making NamUs.Gov Happen

NamUsAccording to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, the free online database `NamUs' - short for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System - is only being used by 6.5 percent, or 1,100, of the country's 17,000law enforcement agencies, for tracking missing persons.

The clearinghouse, which is designed to help identify over 40,000 sets of unknown remains that languish with the country's medical examiners, is not as widely used as it should be largely because either the lack of adequate publicity has resulted in hardly any awareness about it, or most law enforcement agencies are chary of using their already-limited staff resources to participate in the service.

Nonetheless, the AP report also specified that NamUs - which promises to solve almost 100,000 missing persons' cases of the country - has thus far helped crack 16 cases, after becoming fully operational last year.

Furthermore, the service is home to nearly 6,200 unidentified sets of remains, and 2,800 missing people; has, as per The Crime Report, been accessed by over 185,000 people, for missing persons' details, till January 2009.

To encourage a wider use of NamUs and seeking additional funding set aside for the service, a Cheshire, Connecticut-based woman Janice Smolinski is currently championing a bill in the Congress. The bill - "Billy's Law," named after Smolinski's 31-year-old son Billy, who went missing in 2004 - will mandate law enforcement agencies to database details about all the 21-or-over missing adults.