(Received 15 June 1992; accepted 20 September 1992)
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This report analyzes the dynamics that influence the reporting and handling of missing and unidentified persons and reviews the current capability of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Computer to provide accurate matches. Since its inception investigators have become aware of many problems with the missing and unidentified person component of NCIC. Major problems stem from lack of compliance by investigating agencies regarding information entered into the NCIC database and failures of the system itself. The major compliance issue is the low number of dental records that accompany missing entries (1.91% nationwide). Multiple remedies for these problems are offered. Law enforcement needs to establish sound operating procedures for handling missing persons, educate its users, and improve the quality of data entered into the system. Medical examiners and coroners would benefit from better terminal access to missing and unidentified person data. Both law enforcement and death investigation agencies should periodically validate their entries into the system. The NCIC system would be further improved if entry forms were refined to eliminate subjective choices. A system for evaluating the utility of the NCIC system should be implemented. Above all, changes are needed to increase the ability the NCIC system to achieve matches between unidentified and missing persons.
Chief Medical Investigator, Medical Examiner Division, Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, Seattle, WA
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