Healey Proposes New Unit to Help Police Coordinate on Missing Person Investigations

As of March 1, Massachusetts authorities have 1,908 missing person cases and 19 cases of unidentified human remains on file with the FBI; Gov. Maura Healey proposes that $300,000 be committed to the budget for the establishment of a Missing and Unidentified Persons Coordination Unit

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Hundreds of Massachusetts law enforcement officers took part in a training exercise Tuesday as part of a new effort to improve searches for missing people and investigations into unidentified human remains.

Gov. Maura Healey proposed Wednesday that $300,000 be committed to the budget for the fiscal year of 2024 to establish a Missing and Unidentified Persons Coordination Unit. Her office said the unit would support local law enforcement agencies and strengthen statewide coordination.

"Our first budget proposes funding to establish a statewide resource to enhance coordination and underscores our commitment to strong state and local partnership," Healey said in a statement. "Trainings will offer vital insights into the technology, forensic services, and investigative supports that help to improve investigations, resolve cases and provide families and communities with the answers they desperately need."

Healey noted that as of March 1, Massachusetts authorities had 1,908 missing person cases and 19 cases of unidentified human remains on file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"This initiative is important for local law enforcement and the communities they serve as it provides the resources needed to assist these complex investigations and help reunite missing people with their loved ones," added Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll. "This collaborative partnership is an important step toward providing the knowledge and tools required to enhance investigative standards and keep our communities safe."

More than 300 police officers took part in Tuesday's training session, which was held by the Municipal Police Training Committee alongside the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the Massachusetts State Police.

Healey's office says the officers will be trained on digital forensics data collection; cell site location evaluation and Google location history review; cloud and social media analysis; video and mobile device forensics; case study analysis; and an overview of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs.

"The resolution of these cases relies on applying multiple investigative techniques, strong coordination, and enhanced data collection. Multiple shareholders, including families of the missing and murdered and non-profits, such as the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly, have been tireless advocates for advanced law enforcement training and the use of the latest technology. We commend this collaboration and look forward to the continued advancement of this effort," Dr. Ann Marie Mires, director of Forensic Criminology at Anna Maria College and a Forensic Science Oversight Board member, said in a statement shared by the governor's office.

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