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New law aims to lower number of missing persons in Michigan

Michigan State Police officer at computer
Michigan State Police

Police in Michigan hope the number of unsolved missing persons will drop thanks to a new law  signed by Governor Rick Snyder recently.

The legislation requires all law enforcement agencies to put missing persons’ information into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System – or NamUs.

Law enforcement say Michigan is ranked 3rd in the nation for most missing persons. Experts say requiring law enforcement to put case information into NamUs could help lower the state’s number of missing persons.

Michigan State Police Detective-Sergeant Sarah Krebs is with the department’s Missing Persons Coordination Unit. She says this law will change the nature of how law enforcement investigates missing persons.

“You have photographs. You can look at people and immediately decide whether or not it’s the same person.”

Krebs says NamUs is also easier to use, cross-references with unidentified bodies, and includes photographs of the missing or unidentified.

And, she says the system is a free database that anyone can access – not just law enforcement.

“Back in the 1980s, you were seeing missing children on milk cartons. That’s how you found out somebody was missing. That was how we distributed information like that,” Krebs says. “In today’s world, with today’s technology, we have the internet. Why aren’t we using it?”

Tanya Baker is a spokesperson for the governor’s office.

She says, “The hope is that the bill will increase the ability to solve missing person cases and could help with solving cold cases faster or more frequently." 

The NamUs database currently includes more than 500 missing persons in Michigan.

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