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Database for missing people underutilized

Posted at 2:43 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 16:47:59-04

The Gabby Petito case has highlighted another issue – making sure we give attention to other missing and unidentified people in the United States.

Right now, there is a gaping hole in how police report missing people and track them. 

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System – or NamUs – is a federally funded online database for missing, unidentified or unclaimed people in the U.S.

It's often described by cold-case experts as law enforcement's most effective and accurate missing person databases.

The problem is many people just aren't using it.

Unlike national and state databases law enforcement is currently required to report to, this system lets users post pictures, track DNA and it can be accessed by anyone at any time.

Ten states – including New York and California – have passed laws mandating law enforcement use NamUs.

Additionally, legislation is quickly moving through Texas and Pennsylvania.

Florida remains among the majority of states that make reporting to NamUs voluntary for law enforcement.

With an estimated several thousand people still missing and unidentified in the sunshine state, Hernando County detective George Loydgren agrees it's time Florida makes NamUs a requirement for law enforcement.

"It's a no-lose situation," Loydgren said. "It doesn't take that long to input the data and you reach a wide audience. If it inevitably helps you locate a missing person, that's what you want to do."

Katie LaGrone at Newsy first reported this story.