You can’t tell us the government doesn’t have $1 million kicking around the treasury somewhere that they could throw a bone to rural law enforcement. Specifically, to reinstate federal grant funding to provide DNA testing for law enforcement agencies across the nation.
Idaho County benefitted from this program through the National Institute of Justice that since 2008 has awarded more than $23 million toward DNA sample analysis for identifying the missing and unidentified dead.
Without this, the remains of 1994 Salmon River drowning victim Patricia L. Tamosaitis, 56, of Medical Lake, Wash., would have likely languished in an Idaho County Sheriff’s Office evidence box since their recovery in 1996. (Click here for related story) Instead, ICSO took advantage of this program and in 2015 cleared this case and brought closure to her family.
This service has also brought new light to a 30-year-old-plus cold case of unidentified remains found off U.S. Highway 12. Only known as “Mr. Bones,” the remains were initially examined and determination made the male victim suffered a stab wound; a new look into the case in 2011 found that determination was incorrect, and perhaps the cause was natural. (Click here for related story)
In both cases, the availability of DNA sample testing through this program has provided evidence that serves the cause of justice. It has been invaluable to ICSO as otherwise the costs for such testing, at around $2,000 to $3,000 a pop, are not easy budget items to swallow for this agency where dollars for both public agencies and private individuals are spread lean.
Nationally, this service loss is likely to impact NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System), a repository for information about missing people and unidentified dead. NamUs relies on the analysis of this DNA testing to feed its database. Losing this valuable data hampers nationwide searches to help reduce leads and find potential matches.
If you’re looking for a good cause to champion, one that reaches across the aisle to other parties, one that benefits the cause of justice, and, relatively speaking, costs peanuts to fund, we’d suggest you grab some friends and bend the ears of a few elected officials.
Make some mouth noise and help shake a few dollars loose for a good program.