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National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing and Unidentified Persons System Revisited

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 38 Issue: 2 Dated: (March 1993) Pages: 365-378
W D Haglund
Date Published
14 pages
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) missing and unidentified persons files are designed to provide information about the identification of burned, decomposed, and skeletonized remains and other unidentified dead and living persons; the linkage of body parts recovered by multiple agencies; and the identification of victims in the event of a catastrophe.
NCIC's ability to perform these missions effectively depends on the level of communication between the family member or other party that reports the missing person, the law enforcement agency investigating the missing person case, the medical examiner providing information to the law enforcement agency, the State-designated controlling terminal agency (CTA) transferring local and State entries to NCIC, and the NCIC Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit. Since its inception, NCIC has experienced problems in this area, mostly due to lack of compliance by investigative agencies regarding information entered into the NCIC database. The most frequent compliance issue is the low number of dental records accompanying missing entries (1.91 percent nationwide). The effort to identify missing persons could be improved if law enforcement agencies would establish sound operating procedures, train personnel, and improve the quality of data entered into the system; if medical examiners had better terminal access to missing and unidentified person data; if investigative agencies would periodically validate their entries into the system; and if NCIC database entry forms were refined to eliminate subjective choices. Finally, NCIC must implement a system for evaluating the utility of the program. 2 figures, 1 table, 7 notes, and 11 references