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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT ELATIVE 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.  Section 1 of chapter 22A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the definition of “Director” and inserting in place thereof the following definition:- 
         “Director”, the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services.
         SECTION 2.  Said section 1 of said chapter 22A, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the definition of “Person.”
         SECTION 3.  Said chapter 22A is hereby further amended by striking out section 2, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
         Section 2.  The director, in consultation with the colonel of state police, through electronic data processing and related procedures, shall establish a statewide central register containing all necessary and available identifying information of a missing child in the commonwealth. The register shall include the same information required by 42 U.S.C. section 5780 and may include: (i) the missing child’s identifying marks; (ii) prosthetics or surgical implants; (iii) a photograph; (iv) a description of the missing child’s clothing; (v) items that might be with the missing child; (vi) reasons why the reporting person believes that the child is missing; (vii) circumstances that indicate the disappearance was involuntary; (viii) circumstances that indicate the missing child may be at risk of injury or death; (ix) the means of transportation of the missing person; (x) the missing child’s fingerprints; and (xi) the missing child’s blood type. The director may use existing data processing and data communications systems of the criminal justice information system.
         SECTION 4.  Said chapter 22A is hereby further amended by striking out section 5, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
         Section 5.  The medical examiner shall promptly furnish the department of the state police with copies of fingerprints, personal descriptions and other identifying data, including the date and place of death, of all deceased persons whose deaths are in a classification requiring inquiry by the medical examiner where the deceased is not identified or the medical examiner is not satisfied with the decedent's identification. In any case where it is not physically possible to furnish prints of the 10 fingers of the deceased, prints or partial prints of any fingers with other identifying data shall be provided to the department of the state police.
         Additionally, the medical examiner shall cause a dentist to carry out a dental examination in any case where the deceased cannot be identified. The medical examiner may forward the dental records to the department on a form supplied by the department of the state police for such purposes.
         The department of the state police shall compare the fingerprints received from the medical examiners to fingerprints on file with the department of the state police to attempt to determine the identity of the deceased. Other descriptive data supplied with the fingerprints shall also be compared to records maintained by the department concerning missing persons. The department of the state police shall submit the results of the comparisons to the appropriate medical examiner and if a tentative or positive identification is made, to the law enforcement authority which submitted the report of the missing person.
         SECTION 5.  Section 1 of chapter 22C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting before the definition of “Colonel” the following definition:-
         “AMBER alert plan”, the America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response Alert Plan authorizing the broadcast media, upon notice from the department, to transmit an emergency alert to inform the public of a child abduction.
         SECTION 6.  Said chapter 22C is hereby further amended by adding the following section:-
         Section 71.  (a) The department shall establish and maintain an AMBER alert plan to assist in the recovery of abducted children under the age of 18 through notification to the general public and law enforcement agencies. The department shall establish protocols and procedures necessary for the operation of the plan and shall educate and inform law enforcement agencies and the public of its availability. 
         (b)  If a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and that the circumstances of the abduction indicate that the child is in serious danger of bodily harm or death, the agency shall obtain descriptive information for the AMBER alert plan and provide the descriptive information to the department. Thereafter, the law enforcement agency shall identify a point of contact within the agency capable of providing regular updates to the department about the abduction. 
         (c)  The law enforcement agency reporting the abducted child shall obtain a picture of the child.
         (d)  The department may activate an AMBER alert plan, upon a determination that the following criteria have been met: (i) a child has been abducted; (ii) the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death; and (iii) sufficient information exists to believe that activation of an AMBER alert plan may help locate the child.
         (e)  The department may notify appropriate state agencies and authorities, including, but not limited to, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Massachusetts emergency management agency, the state lottery commission, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority of the activation of the AMBER alert plan.
         (f)  The department shall notify the broadcast media serving the commonwealth of the establishment of a statewide AMBER alert plan and invite their voluntary participation. The department shall arrange for participating broadcast media to voluntarily agree, upon notice from the department, to transmit emergency alerts to inform the public of a child abduction that has occurred within their broadcast service regions. Information, material and records transmitted or maintained pursuant to an emergency alert under this section shall not, as a result of any such alert or transmission, be a public record in the custody of the department or other state agencies and authorities and such information, material and records shall not be disclosed except as provided by this section.
         (g)  The department shall enter all information required by the United States Department of Justice on said child into the National Crime Information Center of the United States Department of Justice.
         (h)  The AMBER alert plan shall remain activated until terminated upon the direction of the colonel. 
         (i)  The AMBER alert plan shall not be activated for children considered to be runaways or incidents involving child custody disputes, except in cases of abduction if a threat of serious bodily harm or death exists against the child. 
         (j)  The department may coordinate with the law enforcement agencies in jurisdictions outside the commonwealth, including the federal government, who are responsible for the recovery of abducted children.
         (k)  The department, in consultation with the state 911 department, shall establish training guidelines for 911 call takers and dispatchers on the AMBER alert plan.
         (l)  The colonel, in consultation with the secretary of public safety and security, shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement this section.
         (m)  The department shall prepare and publish information for law enforcement agencies relative to best practices for a report of a missing person. The department shall recommend procedures for law enforcement in responding to a report of a missing person, a report of a missing person who is under 18 and a person under 18 who has been abducted. The department may identify publications and training opportunities that may be available to law enforcement agencies concerning investigations of missing persons.
         (n)  The department shall prepare and publish information for law enforcement agencies relative to best practices for handling death scene investigations. The department shall recommend procedures for law enforcement in processing, preserving, storing and testing DNA samples from human remains and the processing of DNA samples in missing person cases. The department may identify publications and training opportunities that may be available to law enforcement agencies concerning the handling of death scene investigations.
         (o)  The colonel, the department and all department employees shall be immune from suit and liability, either personally or in their official capacity, for any claim for damage to or loss of property or personal injury or other civil liability caused or arising out of or relating to any actual or alleged act, error or omission occurring or alleged to occur in connection with or pursuant to an AMBER alert plan under this section.
         SECTION 7.  Chapter 38 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 6, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
         Section 6.  (a) It shall be the duty of a person who discovers unmarked human remains, or who knowingly causes human remains to be disturbed through construction or agricultural activity, to immediately notify the office of the chief medical examiner.
         (b)  The medical examiner shall make reasonable attempts to promptly identify unmarked human remains including, but not limited to, obtaining: (i) photographs of the human remains prior to an autopsy; (ii) dental or skeletal X-rays; (iii) photographs of items found with the human remains; (iv) fingerprints from the remains, if possible; and (v) a sample of bone, hair or tissue for DNA testing.
         (c)  The office shall conduct an inquiry to determine whether the remains are suspected of being 100 years old or more and, if so determined, shall immediately notify the state archaeologist. The state archaeologist shall determine if the skeletal remains are Native American. If the remains are deemed likely to be Native American, the state archaeologist shall immediately notify the commission on Indian affairs which shall cause a site evaluation to be made to determine if the place where the remains were found is a Native American burial site.
         SECTION 8.  There shall be a task force to review and recommend policies and procedures for law enforcement in missing person cases. The task force shall be comprised of the secretary of public safety and security or a designee, who shall chair the task force, the colonel of state police or a designee, the commissioner of children and families or a designee, the chair of the board of the committee for public counsel services or a designee, a representative of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, a representative of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Incorporated and 2 persons to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be a family member of a missing person and 1 shall be a person with experience in the social, economic and public safety impacts of missing person cases. 
         The task force shall identify and review federal laws, General Laws, regulations, policies and procedures mandating or guiding the receipt, processing and investigation of missing persons reports by law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth, including persons under 18 years of age and persons who have been abducted. The task force shall identify, for the preceding 10 calendar years: (i) the number of missing person cases reported to law enforcement agencies; (ii) the number of investigations begun and the number of investigations still open after 30 days; and (iii) the number of instances when the person reported missing is under 18 years of age.
         The task force shall recommend changes, if necessary, to such state laws, regulations, policies and procedures. 
         The task force shall file a report containing its findings, together with any recommended legislation, with the clerks of the house and senate and the joint committee on public safety and homeland security not later than May 25, 2015.
         SECTION 9.  Chapter 22A of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out the title, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following title:-
         MISSING PERSONS.
         SECTION 10.  Section 3 shall take effect on August 1, 2015.

Approved, January 7, 2015.