Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano Announces City's Expansion of Missing Persons DNA Program to Include Vulnerable Adults
Renews Call for Statewide DNA Databank for Missing Persons
Yonkers, NY – November 13, 2013 – Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner today announced the expansion of Yonkers Missing Persons DNA Program, now offering residents free Safety DNA Identification Kits to assist police in the case of a missing vulnerable adult. Mayor Spano also today renewed his call for the creation of a state-wide DNA databank for missing persons to better assist police in finding those reported missing.
“An astounding 2,300 Americans are reported missing every day, including both adults and children,” said Mayor Spano. “In 2012, Westchester County had the most reported missing vulnerable adult cases in New York State. By expanding our safety DNA kits from children to now include adults, we are being proactive in protecting these residents who may be the most vulnerable, including those with dementia or other illnesses.”
Mayor Spano and the Yonkers Police Department launched the Child Safety DNA Identification Kits program in 2013 to assist in identifying potential missing children. Since the program’s launch, the City of Yonkers has distributed over 3,000 Child DNA kits.
Under the expanded Yonkers program, residents receiving Adult DNA Identification Kits will store their DNA samples at home and only provide the information to police to assist with search efforts in the unforeseen case a family member is ever missing. The kit includes space for the person's photo, fingerprints, hair sample, dental records, and two swabs to preserve their DNA.
Among missing adults, about one-sixth have psychiatric issues, with young men, individuals with drug or alcohol addictions and elderly citizens suffering from dementia making up other significant subgroups of missing adults. The average age of reported missing vulnerable adults is 48 years old; 45 years old among females and 50 years old among males.
Yonkers Police Commissioner Gardner stated, “Building on the success of our Child ID / DNA kits, we wanted to offer a similar kit to our vulnerable adult population. These kits can be produced to law enforcement in the event that someone goes missing. This can be a difficult time for family members and having a completed kit that is accessible saves time during any subsequent search for a missing person. We look forward to working with Mayor Spano’s Office to distribute these kits here in Yonkers to home care providers, nursing homes, and family members who may be caring for any vulnerable adults.”
In addition, the Mayor is renewing his call for the establishment of a statewide DNA database for missing persons to better assist law enforcement in solving the investigations of thousands of missing persons cases in which DNA is not currently recorded. While New York State currently collects and maintains a DNA database for criminal cases, a DNA database for missing persons has not been established.
“A missing family member is everyone’s worst nightmare and we hope to never have to use this information,” said Mayor Spano. “With these kits, we want to make sure residents have every resource available to assure the safety of their family.”Starting today, the Community Affairs Division of the Yonkers Police Department will offer the free Safety DNA Identification Kits. Those interested in securing a kit can pick one up at the Yonkers Police Community Affairs Division, located at 36 Radford Street or call 914-377-7375.