(National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)
Launched in July 2007, a national system/database for missing and unidentified persons has become a reality. I still speak with people daily that are unaware of its existence. It will eventually be comprised of two databases.
The UDRS is up and running and coroners and medical examiners are "populating" the system. It is vital that our coroners and medical examiners get the unidentified deceased entered into the UDRS and NamUs. In the past, law enforcement handled getting the unidentified into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). But now with UDRS and NamUs the coroner and medical examiners have the primary responsibility of getting accurate data into the system.
In the advocate and volunteer sector our work will be streamlined by the good clean data in the NamUs system. NamUs will be the most accurate way to export data to the public and to law enforcement across the globe. At last we all have the opportunity to be on the "same page".
The Missing Database -- Still in Development
The advisory panel will continue to review develop the missing persons database component of NamUs. Privacy issues make is far more difficult when dealing with missing adults. Some might not be actually "missing" but have simply moved on to another area, choosing to leave their old life behind. Without criminal action or suspected foul play, law enforcement has no right to interfere with their freedom of choice. Often runaways might be dropped from NCIC when they reach adulthood by the calendar -- even though they have not yet been accounted for or recovered.
Finding My Purpose
Getting to be a member of NamUs Working Group in this process has been fascinating. Everyone involved as panelists are there with such passion. What we are doing now will greatly effect the way missing persons and unidentified persons are processed. There's so much energy and activity going on behind the scenes.
Things are progressing; there are problems and issues to consider. I feel confident that it is nothing we cannot overcome. I feel amazed at the process, fascinated as you see things start from the ground up -- then the evolution into final components.
I'm going though a lot of evolution myself in fact; finding me sitting in chairs usually occupied by the college educated. My history was my ticket into the room. Once I was almost too scared to be there, feeling more than a bit intimidated. But soon I truly began to feel a spirit of being seen as a colleague.
I'm now very comfortable among my new colleagues, and no longer ashamed of my lack of higher education. Many things I had to learn the hard way over many years -- and I also learned to be proud of that fact. The experience truly has value and I feel like all these years were not wasted in the eyes of my family. I do not think I have chosen the wrong path in life, but it certainly has been a rocky road.
The cause of missing and unidentified persons is finally recognized at the national level with much conviction. I feel as though I am getting to be a part of history in the making and never have I had so much faith in the commitment of our government in a cause so near to my heart. For me, a 20 year dream coming true.
This will be a year of huge strides. Models are in place to test the missing persons system as the development continues. Projections suggest the dual system will be complete and fully operational by late 2009. But I personally feel confident this will happen sooner than anticipated. I am hoping to see that transpire this year instead. This is good news for those waiting and hoping for the slightest piece of information, in hopes of knowing the whereabouts of their lost love ones.
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