Within weeks of a hearing and a committee vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) and Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5), H.R. 3695, the Help Find the Missing Act, also known as "Billy's Law."
"I want to thank Congressman Murphy and my colleagues for passing this important bill, said Poe. Billy's Law' will help bridge the gap of communication and offer the long overdue resources for families of the missing. It was the unwavering determination of the families, like the Smolinskis, that endured the hardships of a broken system to which we also owe our thanks. Because they never gave up, Billy's Law' is now one step closer to becoming a reality."
"Billy's Law," introduced by Murphy and Poe last year, empowers families and loved ones of the missing to find justice by helping to secure funding for the only federal missing persons and unidentified remains database that can be cross-searched, accessed and added to by the public - the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). This database enables the loved ones of the missing to spend countless hours searching for a match and add invaluable information to the case profile that only they know.
The legislation helps to streamline the reporting process for law enforcement and medical examiners by connecting two major federal missing persons and unidentified remains databases- the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the NamUs. Connecting these databases makes them more comprehensive and more likely to lead to a match between a missing person and unidentified human remains.
"Billy's Law" also creates an incentive grants program to coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to help facilitate the reporting of missing persons and unidentified remains to the federal databases. Grants can also be used for training programs on how to correctly use the databases and best handle these cases.
By creating a robust, user-friendly national missing persons and unidentified remains database, Billys Law will help heal family wounds by finally giving parents and family members like the Smolinskis the ability to be true partners with law enforcement in the search for their loved one, said Murphy.
This legislation is named after Billy Smolinski of Waterbury, Connecticut, who went missing on August 24, 2004, at the age of 31. After hearing from Janice Smolinski about the nightmare her family endured, Billys Law was introduced to help ensure that more families do not encounter the systemic challenges the Smolinskis faced in the search to find their son.
Congressman Ted Poe serves on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and is founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus advocating on behalf of victims in Washington, DC.
For more information on Congressman Poe and the Victims Rights Caucus, please visit our website: http://poe.house.gov.