NamUs is a powerful tool designed to assist with missing and unidentified persons cases. Traditionally, searches take long – years or even decades pass before a case is finally resolved. Using technology that utilizes forensics, NamUs serves as a database where law enforcement and the public can input entries and make searches allowing for faster leads. Through it, families and friends of missing persons gain a sense of empowerment through the transparency and efficiency that the system provides.
B.J. Spamer, the Executive Director of Operations for NamUs’ UNT Health Science Center is the resource speaker for this webinar. She’s been with NamUs since 2011 and have previously worked as an Intelligence Analyst for the Kansas City (Missouri) PD and Bureau of Investigation, and a Forensic Case Manager for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
On this course, B.J. will be providing a brief background on NamUs, a walkthrough on how to use the system, a rundown of NamUs’ services, and a look at cases of missing and unidentified persons in indigenous communities. Some of the topics she discussed are:
- An overview of NamUs and how it supports tribal communities and law enforcement.
- Understanding the existing problem of missing and murdered indigenous individuals and the role NamUs played in capturing necessary data to drive policy.
- The widespread problem of missing persons across the United States and the challenge of lack of a central database which NamUs is able to address.
- A demonstration on how to access, utilize and maximize NamUs’ features and database.
- How NamUs serves the tribal population by aligning with the goals of Savanna’s Act and specialized tribal data fields rolled out with NamUs’ most recent update.
- Statistics on unidentified and missing persons looking at demographic segments.
- The services that NamUs provides to both the public and law enforcement to assist with leads.
- Case studies that exhibit how NamUs is able to resolve and expedite missing and unidentified persons cases.
- During the Q&A , B.J. clarified audience inquiries about:
- Incomplete reporting for missing native Americans and accessing NamUs data sets.
- Changing the user registration from public to professional access.
- How to utilize the NamUs database outside of the United States.
- Limitations for the public access and the rationale for these.
- How RPSs provide support and assistance to law enforcement and victim advocates.
- Collaboration between NamUs and NCMEC, and the roles that each agency play.
- Victim family conferences and events that NamUs is involved in.
- Volunteer and employment opportunities with NamUs.
- Using forensic science innovations and technology to resolve cases.
Resources Mentioned During Webinar:
- NamUs Regional Program Specialist Map
- NIJ Study on Violence Against Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men
- Savannah’s Act
- NamUs User Guide (External Link)
- “No matter the topic, each presenter in the sessions I have heard have provided relevant and important information. The information provides me much on which to reflect.” — Pam
- “This was a very effective review of how the NamUs program and associated database works. Thank you!” — Thomas
- “The contact information and how to input names of missing Native Americans/Alaska natives into the NamUs site. This may help find some but not all of our missing people. Again thank you for your hard work on this site and the webinar, it is appreciated.” — Tina
- “Excellent speaker. Very thorough and helpful information to pass on to searching families.” — Jane
- “Wide range of services available through NamUs and May 5 as National Day of Awareness. Very well presented; thorough without being overwhelming. Excellent; rates as one of the best-ever webinars both for content and presenter.” — Kate