How can you help NamUs.gov and the missing?
If you’re inspired by the work of the amateur online sleuths in The Lucky One, here’s one way you can easily get involved.
If you live in New York, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, or West Virginia (current to February 2020), your state already requires law enforcement to submit cases to NamUs.gov, the searchable, national database for missing and unidentified persons. The more cases collected in one place, the more likely these matches can be made. If your state isn’t included in that list, you can support your state’s participation by asking your elected officials to propose legislation. Here’s how:
First, figure out who your state representatives are. Use a site like https://openstates.org to confirm your state Senators and Representatives.
Find out how your reps like to receive correspondence from their constituents. Look for a Contact page on their websites, or use provided email or paper-mail addresses. You can also call their office if a phone number is offered.
Organize your message.
- Use the correct salutation. A good standard honorific for an elected official is “The Honorable.” You can also use the person’s exact title, but double-check it to make sure you have the correct one.
- Get to the point. You can borrow this language:
I’m writing to you to voice my concern that our state does not require all law enforcement to submit known missing and unidentified persons cases to NamUs.gov. NamUs.gov is a nationwide information clearinghouse offering free, secure, easy-to-use, online technology to help law enforcement find associations between known cases and their resolutions. Inclusion in NamUs.gov could help the officers of our state close lingering missing persons cases and find closure for families still seeking loved ones, sometimes for decades.
- Use a few stats. You can borrow this language:
According to NamUs.gov, more than 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year. Fortunately, many missing children and adults are quickly found, alive and well. However, tens of thousands of individuals remain missing for more than one year—what many agencies consider “cold cases.” In addition, it is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year.
- Sign with your real name and address. You’re a voter, right? Your rep is likely to care about what you care about.
Get your friends and neighbors in involved. Share this information with those you think might want to help.