Just Leveraging Databases for Human Identification

Just Leveraging Databases for Human Identification

Original Release Date: September 23, 2022

In episode three of our Applications of Forensic Science for Human Identification season, Just Science sat down with Lori Bruski and Amy Jenkinson, two Research Public Health Analysts at RTI International, to discuss interagency efforts to compile crime, missing persons, and decedent information in comprehensive databases.

In the digital age, criminal justice information can be uploaded into databases and organized in a searchable centralized location, making it more accessible than ever. These government databases act as computerized indices of information that law enforcement, medicolegal death investigators, and, in some cases, the general public can use to help identify unknown human remains and resolve missing persons cases. Listen along as Lori and Amy discuss the different databases available, where to access them, and how they can be leveraged for forensic science and human identification.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (Award #: 15PNIJ-21-GK-02192-MUMU).

Some content in this podcast may be considered sensitive and may evoke emotional responses, or may not be appropriate for younger audiences. 

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Episode Citation

McKay, J., Bruski, L., & Jenkinson, A. (2022, September 23). Just Science. Just Leveraging Databases for Human Identification. [Audio podcast episode]. The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence.

Guest Biography

Lori Bruski is a Research Public Health Analyst with RTI International assigned as the System and Process Project Manager for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). Lori previously was with the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) as a Regional Program Specialist with NamUs. Prior to joining NamUs, Lori was employed with the Michigan State Police and was trained in firearms, crime scene response, bloodstain pattern interpretation, serological examinations, and DNA analysis. In her current role, she aids law enforcement, medical examiners, and families with missing and unidentified person cases for New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. She provides daily assistance to NamUs stakeholders in the areas of entering new NamUs cases, enhancing data on existing NamUs cases and facilitating forensic services. Lori also provides training to law enforcement and medical examiners and is involved with many special projects including Operation UNITED involving exhumations of unidentified individuals. 

Amy Jenkinson holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega, Georgia. In 2011, she joined the Knox County Sheriff's Office Forensic Unit and became a full-time Crime Analyst shortly thereafter. In November 2011, she became the NamUs Victim's Advocate Representative for the State of Tennessee and was chosen to attend the NamUs Training Academy. This allowed Ms. Jenkinson to train other Tennessee agencies on the importance and use of NamUs. The following year, Ms. Jenkinson was reassigned to the Major Crimes/Cold Case Unit of the Knox County Sheriff's Office, where she continued to focus on missing and unidentified person cases. She was later promoted to the position of Cold Case Investigator. Ms. Jenkinson also served as the ViCAP Liaison for the Knox County Sheriff's Office and managed their budget for private laboratory forensic testing. Ms. Jenkinson joined the NamUs team in February 2015 as a Regional Program Specialist (RPS), where she currently works with law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, family members, and public users across six states. As an RPS, Ms. Jenkinson reconciles NamUs entries with agency reports, provides investigative support, and secures biometric information for forensic analysis. In 2015, Ms. Jenkinson also served as a member of the NIJ Cold Case Working Group, where she helped with the creation of a new policy and procedure manual to support the establishment and maintenance of cold case units within agencies and detail the resources available for cold case investigations. Additionally, she is currently a part of the FBI Cold Case/Unknown Deceased Focus Group, where she has provided input on identifying information gaps, implementing strategies to streamline and standardize deceased person identification request, and make recommendations to reduce the length of time to solve unknown deceased and cold cases. Currently, Ms. Jenkinson is working on a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology with an emphasis in Victimology from Walden University. Her anticipated graduation date is Spring 2023. 

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this podcast episode are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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