Running from mid-September to Oct. 1, the one-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, each piece focuses on an aspect of law enforcement and other public safety response to missing persons and mass casualty incidents: Urban Search and Rescue; Forensic Imaging in Missing Children Cases; Investigations focused on At-Risk Communities, Including Human Trafficking; And Mass Violence and Terrorism
LAS VEGAS, NV, SEPT. 13, 2018: On Thursday, Biometrica Systems, Inc., a Las Vegas-based technology company that tracks crime and criminals, and the Washington, D.C.-area-based National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC), announced a collaborative series on different aspects of public safety, emergency response, and investigations with a focus on missing persons to commemorate Missing & Unidentified Persons Conference (MUPC) month, traditionally held each September.
“According to NCIC (National Crime Information Center) data, 651,226 people were reported missing in 2017,” said Helen Connelly, the Washington Office Program Administrator at the NCJTC of Fox Valley Technical College. “While media attention often focuses on victims of stranger abductions and kidnappings, the truth is that only a small fraction of reported cases involve these circumstances. Many missing person reports involve individuals who wander off, run away, and are homeless or at-risk due to different stressors. They are aging populations, veterans and active service members, college-aged students, tribal and minority groups, and the nation’s adults and children with physical, mental and developmental disabilities, which make them more at risk for injury or harm.”
“With the annual MUPC event skipping a year, in preparation for its big move to Las Vegas next September for its 12th edition, we and the NCJTC thought it was important to still focus attention on missing persons, public safety, and mass casualty events in some way this month,” said Biometrica CEO Wyly Wade.
“From our perspective, this series by experts in the field made sense at several levels. First, we’re a Vegas-based company and it’s almost one year since the horrific events of Oct. 1, 2017. Two, this has been a landmark year for missing person legislation at the federal and state levels, and the recognition of a need for resources, including data, education, and the building of a larger, more networked response community. We’re hoping this series helps with that, as it ties directly into the heart of what our community is all about. At a personal level, as another Arizonan, I hope, somewhere, Sen. McCain is looking down and approving of what we’re trying to do. After all, he was very invested in this.”
A little over six months ago, on Feb. 26, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, following bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain and Heidi Heitkamp, and sponsored in the House by Congressman Andy Biggs, to expand the AMBER Alert child abduction-warning system to Native American reservations. The Act made clear they were eligible for Department of Justice grants that help assemble AMBER Alert systems for law enforcement agencies.
Talking about its passage, Sen. McCain had then stated, “In 2016, the Navajo community was devastated by the abduction and murder of 11-year old Ashlynne Mike. In that high profile case, authorities did not issue an AMBER Alert for Ashlynne until the day after family members reported her abduction. We must do more to ensure Native American tribes have the resources they need to quickly issue AMBER Alerts and give abduction victims the best possible chance to survive.”
On April 13, President Trump signed the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act into law.
Three other at-risk “missing” communities have received legislative focus this year. On March 28, Wisconsin became the first state to officially create a “Green Alert” system for when a veteran with a known physical or mental health condition went missing. The Corey Adams Searchlight Act was named for a Milwaukee Air Force Veteran who died last year after going missing for 18 days.
On July 1, Virginia’s “Ashanti Alert,” officially known as the “Virginia Critically Missing Adult Alert Program,” went into effect. Named for 19-year-old Virginian, Ashanti Billie, who was found murdered in Charlotte, North Carolina, last year, the alert is to be used when an adult between the ages of 18-65 is missing, believed to have been abducted, and is determined to be in critical danger by law enforcement.
And in Washington, another bipartisan legislative effort saw HB 2951 go into effect this summer. It requires the Washington State Patrol (WSP) to work with tribal law enforcement and the state Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to conduct a study, by June 19, 2019, on how to increase state criminal justice resources for reporting and identifying missing Native American women in the state.
“It’s very difficult for me to understand that there are barriers to prevent us from finding a 12-year-old girl”, said State Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, the bill’s sponsor, during a recent NCJTC event on Using Risk Mitigation Ecosystems in the Search for Missing Persons. “Hopefully, we can serve as a model and learn from other states so that we can do it across the nation. This is not a Washington only problem. This is a problem across the nation. It’s our job as legislators to be the voice of the people, and the people that I serve are also on the reservation.”
Chris Boyer, the Executive Director and COO of NASAR, the National Association For Search And Rescue, which has co-sponsored the MUPC with the NCJTC since 2015, said the conference was the only national event that “provided experience-based education focused on response to homicides, suicides, and mass fatality events; searching and recovering missing and unidentified persons and unidentified remains; managing mass fatalities and family assistance centers; the return of personal effects and repatriation of remains; serving victims with special needs; and recognizing the critical role all first responders play in the search for the missing.”
“This series,” Boyer added, “aims to distill some of that experience into four in-depth pieces to provide our community at large with a bird’s eye view of what goes into different parts of that response.”
The four-part series, each by experts in different aspects of public safety, emergency response and investigations, will be featured from mid-September to Oct. 1 on Biometrica’s website (www.biometrica.com) and distributed to the law enforcement, intelligence, other first responder and criminal justice community across the NCJTC network. Here is a quick backgrounder on the series and featured experts:
- Chris Young on Urban Search and Rescue: In addition to his duties with a Northern California Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team and surrounding jurisdictions, Mr. Young is the Chair of BASARC, the Bay Area Search and Rescue Council, Inc. and one of the country’s preeminent authorities on Search and Rescue.
- Colin McNally on Forensic Imaging, Age-progression Renderings, and Facial Reconstruction and Cold Cases: McNally is Supervisor of the Forensic Imaging Unit at NCMEC, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
- NCJTC’s Derek VanLuchene and Nadia Eley, JD, on Missing Person Investigations, Human Trafficking and At-Risk Communities: VanLuchene is a Project Coordinator for the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program (AATTAP) with a focus on AATTAP’s Child Abduction Response Team (CART) program (including in native communities). Mr. VanLuchene spent 18 years as a Montana Law Enforcement Officer working for both the Conrad Police Department and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation. Ms. Eley is the 2019 MUPC conference coordinator. She has been with the NCJTC 10 years, with a focus on coordinating training and technical assistance and special projects.
- Jeffrey Muller on the Investigation of Mass Casualty Incidents and Terrorism: Muller is the President of strategic security group MGI. He previously served 21 years as a Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI, where he co-founded the Bureau’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. He also developed and founded INTERPOL’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Directorate, and chaired the United Nations Critical Infrastructure Protection, Tourism Security and Cyber Security Working Group, comprised of 34 UN agencies.
For more than 25 years, the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC.org) of Fox Valley Technical College (www.fvtc.edu), has served as a national leader offering training and technical assistance to professionals and organizations in the law enforcement and criminal justice fields. Many of their training programs are offered through grants and cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice.
For more information:
Nadia Eley (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-971-7205)
Helen Connelly (email@example.com, 202-971-7206)
Biometrica Systems, Inc. (www.biometrica.com) is a Nevada-based technology company that creates software and systems with the intention of minimizing criminality. We have the country’s largest private multi-jurisdictional, 100% law enforcement verified database of arrests, attached to near real-time Facial Recognition, and a range of other biometric-enabled tools — including private, encrypted information networks and incident management software.
We work with and support the work of federal, state and local law enforcement, other first responders, criminal justice professionals (including nonprofits working in education, research and training), intelligence agencies, private investigators, process servers, and private sector security and surveillance teams. We are committed to doing our part in building better quality arrest and conviction data and more transparent access to that data.
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