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SENATE DOCKET, NO. 1410         FILED ON: 1/18/2013

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1110

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Stephen M. Brewer

_______________

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act relative to missing persons..

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Stephen M. Brewer

Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex

Todd M. Smola

1st Hampden

Nicholas A. Boldyga

3rd Hampden

Karen E. Spilka

Second Middlesex and Norfolk

Kimberly N. Ferguson

1st Worcester

Michael O. Moore

Second Worcester


SENATE DOCKET, NO. 1410        FILED ON: 1/18/2013

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1110

By Mr. Brewer, a petition (accompanied by bill, Senate, No. 1110) of Stephen M. Brewer, Todd M. Smola, Nicholas A. Boldyga, Karen E. Spilka and other members of the General Court for legislation relative to missing persons.  Public Safety and Homeland Security. 

 

[SIMILAR MATTER FILED IN PREVIOUS SESSION
SEE SENATE, NO. 1184 OF 2011-2012.]


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

_______________

In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

_______________

 

An Act relative to missing persons..
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1.  Chapter 38A of the General Laws is hereby added, by inserting the following:-

                              MISSING PERSON(S) REPORT

              (1) REPORT ACCEPTANCE.  All law enforcement agencies within the state shall accept without delay any report of a missing person(s).  Acceptance of a missing person(s) report may not be refused on any ground.  No law enforcement agency may refuse to accept a missing person report on that basis that:

              (A) The missing person(s) is an adult;

              (B) The circumstances do not indicate foul play;

              (C) The person(s) has been missing for a short period of time;

              (D) The person(s) has been missing a long period of time;

              (E) There is no indication that the missing person(s) was in the jurisdiction served by the law enforcement agency at the               time of the disappearance;

              (F) The circumstances suggest that the disappearance may be voluntary;

              (G) The person(s) reporting does not have personal knowledge of the facts;

              (H) The reporting individual cannot provide all of the information requested by the law enforcement agency;

              (I) The reporting person lacks a familial or other relationship with the missing person;

              (J) Or for any other reason.

              (2) MANNER OF REPORTING.  All law enforcement agencies shall accept missing person(s) reports by phone or in person.  Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to accept reports by electronic or other media to the extent that such reporting is consistent with law enforcement policies or practices. 

              (3) CONTENTS OF REPORT.  In accepting a report of a missing person(s), the law enforcement agency shall attempt to gather relevant information relating to the disappearance.  The law enforcement agency shall attempt to gather at the time of the report information that shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

              (A) The name of the missing person(s) (including alternative names used);

              (B) The date of birth;

              (C) Identifying marks (such as birthmarks, moles, tattoos, scars, etc.);

              (D) Height and weight;

              (E) Hair color;

              (F) Eye color;

              (G) Prosthetics or surgical implants;

              (H) A photograph of the missing person(s) (recent photographs are preferable; the agency is encouraged to attempt to               ascertain the approximate date the photograph was taken);

              (I) A description of the clothing the missing person(s) was believed to be wearing;

              (J) A description of items that might be with the missing person(s) (jewelry, accessories, shoes or boots etc.);

              (K) The reasons why the reporting person(s) believes that the person(s) is missing;

              (L) Any circumstances that may indicate that the disappearance was not voluntary;

              (M) Any circumstances that indicate that the missing person(s) may be at risk of injury or death;

              (N) A description of the possible means of transportation of the missing person(s) (including make, model, color, license,               and VIN of a vehicle);

              (O) Any identifying information about a known or possible abductor including;

                            (1) Name;

                            (2) A physical description;

                            (3) Date of birth;

                            (4) Identifying marks;

                            (5) The description of possible means of transportation (including make, model, color, license, and VIN of a                                           vehicle);

                            (6) Known associates.

              (P) Any other information that can aid in locating the missing person(s); and

              (Q) Date of last contact.

              (4) NOTIFICATION AND FOLLOW UP ACTION.

              (A) NOTIFICATION.  The law enforcement agency shall notify the person(s) making the report, a family member, or other               person(s) in a position to assist the law enforcement agency in its efforts to locate the missing person(s):

                            (1)General information about the handling of the missing person(s) case or about intended efforts in the case                                           to the extent that the law enforcement agency determines that disclosure would not adversely affect its                                           ability to locate the missing person(s) or apprehended or prosecute any person(s) criminally involved in the                                           disappearance;

                            (2) That the person(s) making the report or other necessary person(s) should return promptly to the law                                           enforcement agency if the missing person(s) remains missing to provide additional information and materials,                                           that will aid in locating the missing person(s).  The law enforcement agency should also notify the person(s) of                                           the specific information or materials needed;

                            (3) The law enforcement agency shall notify the person(s) making the report that any DNA samples provided                                           for the missing person(s) case will be used solely to help locate or identify the missing person and will not be                                           used for other purpose;

                            (4) The law enforcement agency is encouraged to make available informational materials (through publications                                           or electronic or other media) that advise the public about how the information or materials identified in this                                           subsection are used to help locate or identify missing persons.

              (B)FOLLOW UP ACTIONS.  If the person(s) identified in the missing person report remain missing after thirty days, and               the additional information and materials specified below have not been received, the law enforcement agency shall                             attempt to obtain:

                            (1) DNA samples from family members and/or from the missing person(s) along with any needed                                                         documentation required for the use of state or Federal DNA databases;

                            (2) An authorization to release dental or skeletal x-rays of the missing person(s);

                            (3) Any additional photographs of the missing person(s) that may aid the investigation or identification.  The                                           law enforcement agency shall not be required to obtain written authorization before it releases publicly any                                           photograph that would aid in the investigation or identification of the missing person(s);

                            (4) Dental information and x-rays; and

                            (5) Fingerprints.

              (C) All DNA samples obtained in missing person(s) cases shall be immediately forwarded to the Department of State               Police's Crime Lab for analysis.  The laboratory should establish procedures for determining how to prioritize analysis of               the samples relating to missing persons cases;

              (D) This subsection should not be interpreted to preclude a law enforcement agency from attempting to obtain the               materials identified in this subsection before the expiration of the thirty day period. 

              SECTION 2. LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYSIS AND REPORTING OF MISSING PERSON(S) INFORMATION.

              (1) PROMPT DETERMINATION OF HIGH-RISK MISSING PERSON(S)

              (A) DEFINITION.  A high risk missing person(s) is an individual whose whereabouts are not currently known and the                             circumstances indicate that the individual may be at risk of injury or death.  The circumstances that indicate that an               individual is a "high risk missing person(s)" include, but are not limited to:

                            (1) The person(s) is missing as a result of a stranger abduction;

                            (2) The person(s) is missing under suspicious circumstances;

                            (3) The person(s) is missing under unknown circumstances;

                            (4) The person(s) is missing under known dangerous circumstances;

                            (5) The person(s) is missing more than thirty (30) days;

                            (6) The person(s) has already been designated as a "high risk missing person(s)" by another law enforcement                                           agency;

                            (7) There is evidence that the person(s) is at risk because:

                                          (A) The person(s) missing is in need of medical attention;

                                          (B) The person(s) missing does not have a pattern of running away or disappearing;

                                          (C) The person(s) missing may have been abducted by non-custodial parent;             

                                          (D) The person(s) missing is mentally impaired;

                                          (E) The person(s) missing is a person under the age of twenty-one;

                                          (F) The person(s) missing has been the subject of past threats or acts of violence.             

              (B) LAW ENFORCEMENT RISK ASSESSMENT.

                            (1) Upon initial receipt of a missing person(s) report, the law enforcement agency shall immediately determine                                           whether there is a basis to determine that the person(s) missing is a high risk missing person(s);

                            (2) If a law enforcement agency has previously determined that a missing person(s) is not a high risk missing                                           person(s), but obtains new information, it shall immediately determine whether the information provided to the                             law enforcement agency indicates that the person(s) missing is a high risk missing person(s);

                            (3) Risk assessments identified in this subsection shall be performed not later than twenty four hours after the                                           initial missing person(s) report or the new information was provided to the law enforcement agency. 

              (C) LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY REPORTS.

                            (1) When the law enforcement agency determines that the missing person(s) is a high risk missing person(s) it                                           shall notify the Criminal History Systems Board.  It shall immediately provide to the Department of State Police                                           the information most likely to aid in the location and safe return of the high risk missing person(s).  It shall                                           provide as soon as practicable all other information obtained relating to the missing person(s) case;

                            (2) The Department of State Police shall promptly notify all law enforcement agencies within the state of the                                           information that will aid in the prompt location and safe return of the high risk missing person(s);

                            (3) The local law enforcement agencies who receive the notification from the state agency specified in                                           subsection (2) shall notify officers to ?be on the look out? for the missing person(s) or a suspected abductor;

                            (4) The Department of State Police shall promptly enter all collected information relating to the missing person                                          (s) case in available state and Federal databanks.  The information shall be provided to in accordance with                                           applicable guidelines relating to the databases.  The information shall be entered as follows:

                                          (A) A missing person(s) report in high risk missing person(s) cases (and relevant information                                                         provided in the report shall be entered in the National Crime Information Center database within                                                         four hours of the determination that the missing person is a high risk missing person; All other                                                         missing person(s) reports (and relevant information provided in the report) shall be entered within                                                         one day after the missing person(s) report is received.  Supplemental information is high-risk missing                                           person(s) cases should be entered as soon as practicable;

                                          (B) All DNA profiles shall be uploaded into the state missing person(s) database and the FBI Missing                                                         Person DNA Database within five business days after completion of the DNA analysis and other                                                         procedures required for database entry;

                                          (C) Information relevant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Violent Criminal Apprehension                                                         Program shall be entered as soon as possible.

              (5) The Department of State Police shall ensure that person(s) entering data relating to medical or dental records in state or Federal databases are specifically trained to understand and correctly enter the information sought by these databases.  The Department of State Police is strongly encouraged to either use person(s) with specific expertise in medical or dental records for this purpose or consult with the Office Of The Chief Medical Examiner to ensure the accuracy and completeness of information entered into the state and Federal databanks;

              (6) Pursuant to any applicable state criteria, local law enforcement agencies should also provide for the prompt use of an Amber Alert or public dissemination of photographs in appropriate high risk cases;

              SECTION 3. REPORTING OF DEATH UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS/HUMAN REMAINS

              (1) HANDLING OF DEATH SCENE INVESTIGATIONS.

              (A) The Department of State Police shall provide information to local law enforcement agencies about best                                           practices for handling death scene investigations;

              (B) The Department of State Police shall identify any publications or training opportunities that may be available               to local law enforcement agencies or law enforcement officers concerning the handling of death scene investigations.

              (2) LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTS.

              (A) After performing any death scene investigation deemed appropriate under the circumstances, the law                                           enforcement agency shall ensure that the human remains are delivered to Office of The Chief Medical Examiner;

              (B) A law enforcement agency that locates human remains that are not identified within 24 hours shall promptly                             notify the Department of State Police of the location of those remains;

              (C) If the law enforcement agency cannot determine whether or not the remains found are human, it shall notify                             the Department of State Police of the existence of possible human remains.

              SECTION 4. UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS/HUMAN REMAINS IDENTIFICATION RESPONSIBILITIES.

              (1) If the official with custody of the human remains is not a medical examiner, the official shall promptly transfer the               unidentified remains to the Office of The Chief Medical Examiner with responsibility for seeking to determine the identity               of the human remains;

              (2)Notwithstanding any other action deemed appropriate for the handling of the human remains, the medical examiner shall make reasonable attempts to promptly identify human remains.  These actions may include but are not limited to obtaining:

              (A) Photographs of the human remains (prior to an autopsy);

              (B) Dental or skeletal X-rays;

              (C) Photographs of items found with the human remains;

              (D) Fingerprints from the remains (if possible);

              (E) Sample[s] of tissue suitable for DNA typing (if possible);

              (F) Sample[s] of whole bone or hair suitable for DNA typing;

              (G)Any other information that may support identification efforts.

              (3)No medical examiner or any other person shall cremate, dispose of, or engage in actions that will materially affect the               unidentified human remains before the medical examiner obtains:

              (A) Samples suitable for DNA identification, archiving;

              (B) Photographs of the unidentified person/human  remains; and

              (C) All other appropriate steps for identification have been exhausted.

              (4) The medical examiner or the Department of State Police?s Crime Lab shall make reasonable efforts to obtain prompt DNA analysis of biological samples, if the human remains have not been identified by other means.  The medical examiner or the Department of State Police's Crime Lab shall seek support from appropriate state and Federal agencies for human remains identification efforts.  Such support may include, but is not limited to, available mitochondrial or nuclear DNA testing, Federal grants for DNA testing, or Federal grants for crime laboratory or medical examiner office improvement;

              (5) The medical examiner Department of State Police shall promptly enter information in Federal and state databases that can aid in the identification of missing person(s).  Information shall be entered in Federal databases as follows:

              (A) Information for the National Crime Information Center within twenty four hours;             

              (B) DNA profiles and information into the Federal Bureau of Investigation?s Missing persons DNA Database within five               business days after the completion of the DNA analysis and procedures necessary for the entry of the DNA profile; and

              (C) Information sought by the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program database as soon as practicable. 

              (6) If medical examiner office personnel do not input the data directly into the Federal databanks, the Department of State Police shall consult with the medical examiner?s office to ensure appropriate training of the data entry personnel and the establishment of a quality assurance protocol for ensuring the ongoing quality of data entered in the Federal and state databases;

              (7) Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to preclude any medical examiner office, the Department of State Police, or a local law enforcement agency from pursuing other efforts to identify unidentified human remains including efforts to publicize information, descriptions or photographs that may aid in the identification of the unidentified remains, allow family members to identify missing person(s), and seek to protect the dignity of the missing person(s).             

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