Under Assemblyman Joseph Lentol’s newly proposed Expedited Missing Persons’ Identification Act, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) would be required to provide all law enforcement agencies in the state with a personal description of an unidentified body prior to the coroner examination.
“The lapse in time between finding an unidentified deceased person and matching them with an identity is crucial to an investigation,” Lentol said. “The legislation will take direct aim at efficiently streamlining this process for both the DCJS and local police precincts.”
Currently the law does not require any action after information is sent to DCJS following the coroner's report, however the proposal would alternatively require DCJS to provide police with information such as height, weight, race, sex and the approximate age of the deceased.
“Any modifications to the law that improve the criminal justice system are welcomed with open arms, and I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation,” Lentol said.
In Stark’s case, the family chose to exempt his body from an autopsy based on religious grounds, however Lentol added that it was too late due to the lack of communication between Nassau County and the NYPD.
Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, said he is hopeful the new legislation would provide police with the adequate information in future missing persons cases.
“In Menachem Stark's case, many hours elapsed before the NYPD was informed that a body, possibly Mr. Stark, was callously lying in a smoldering dumpster in Nassau County,” Niederman said. “Precious time was lost in the hunt that continues today - over two months later - for Menachem's kidnappers and murderers, which the NYPD is working very hard to solve.”
State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilman Stephen Levin, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila and Borough President Eric Adams joined Niederman and Lentol last week at UJO offices on Penn Street in Williamsburg in support of the proposed bill.
"When families suffer tragedies, they have to know that everything possible will be done to inform them promptly and move the investigation forward," Squadron said. "This bill will help families find closure while streamlining the investigative process."