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DNA Service Cuts Service for State Police
Federal budget cuts cause the loss of service

Oregon State Police has partnered with the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNT-CHI) for over 10 years to process and upload missing person and unidentified person DNA profiles into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The Center has also provided invaluable service to all 36 Oregon counties by sponsoring and managing the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). Unfortunately, due to a loss of federal funds, the UNT-CHI can no longer process any missing person or unidentified remains samples outside the state of Texas. UNT-CHI will also be limited in their management of the NamUs website as of January 1, 2021.

The Oregon State Police Forensic Science and Pathology Bureau will now be expected and sought out by Oregon law enforcement agencies to provide the services that UNT cannot. OSP cannot provide the suite of DNA examinations and services that UNT has provided in the past; however, the Bureau is committed to assisting Oregonians and Oregon law enforcement providing DNA analyses. If you have missing person/family reference standards to submit for DNA analysis, they ask that you retain them securely until further notice. You may direct questions regarding DNA analysis for Family Reference Standards of missing persons to Stephenie Winter Sermeno, OSP DNA Unit Supervisor: swinter@osp.oregon.gov.

Death investigators and law enforcement agencies routinely begin with the NamUs website to determine if DNA, dental records, and fingerprints from both missing persons and unidentified remains are available for searching and comparison purposes. In addition, families of missing persons have access to NamUs to provide and search for important information about their loved ones for “matching” or associating cases. Negotiations appear to be ongoing regarding the maintenance and management of the NamUs website; the National Institute of Justice is acknowledging the burden that suspending this national information repository would bring. NamUs is a crucial tool to the forensic science, pathology, anthropology, missing persons, and law enforcement communities. Continued use as a state-wide and nation-wide resource and service is important as an uninterrupted tool. In the meantime, you may direct questions regarding the analysis of unidentified remains and/or the OSP Human Identification Program to Dr. Nici Vance, State Forensic Anthropologist: nvance@osp.oregon.gov

In the coming days OSP will communicate analytical capabilities and limitations regarding the submission and processing of biological samples in missing person cases and unidentified remains cases. How this plays out may depend on the 2021-23 OSP budget. The agency requested a 41.59% increase of which 28% comes from the General Fund. However, The Governor’s budget did not include additional funding for the Forensic Science and Pathology Bureau. But, in response to the riots, the Governor will invest $5.8 million to support and improve the Oregon State Police’s policy, training, and wellness accountability plans, which includes funding for implicit bias training, firearms accountability, trooper wellness, and the purchase of additional body cameras.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-12-16 08:40:49Last Update: 2020-12-17 06:23:48

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