Thousands have gone missing in Mass. Here’s how Gov. Healey wants to help find them.


The governor’s proposed missing persons unit would receive $300,000 in funding from her proposed budget.

Maura Healey speaks behind a podium
Governor Maura Healey is hoping to create a new missing persons unit that would receive $300,000 in funding from her proposed budget. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Governor Maura Healey is hoping to create a new missing persons unit, coordinating several state agencies that have historically struggled to account for unidentified people in the commonwealth.

Healey announced her proposed Missing and Unidentified Persons Coordination Unit, which would receive $300,000 in state funding, as part of her prospective 2024 budget. The unit would provide education and resources to municipal law enforcement departments and boost statewide coordination in missing persons cases.

“The new unit will designate several full-time positions at the state level to enhance stakeholder collaboration, advance continued policy development, participate in the development of training curriculum, and lead the standardization of data collection and uniform reporting,” Healey’s office said.

According to reporting from The Boston Globe, Massachusetts has struggled in its approach to missing person cases, with poor communication between agencies and cases essentially being forgotten over time. The Globe reported that Massachusetts’s only public database of missing person cases displayed fewer than 10% of ongoing cases.

“Our first budget proposes funding to establish a statewide resource to enhance coordination and underscores our commitment to strong state and local partnership,” Healey said. “Trainings will offer vital insights into the technology, forensic services, and investigative supports that help to improve investigations, resolve cases, and provide families and communities with the answers they desperately need.”

As of March 1, Massachusetts had reported 1,927 active cases to the to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, including 1,908 missing persons and 19 unidentified human remains, Healey’s office said.

Much like the rest of her budget, the proposal must be approved by lawmakers on Beacon Hill when Healey’s fiscal plan is put to a vote.

In addition to the unit, over 300 officers received a missing persons and unidentified human remains investigations training Tuesday on how to best apply digital evidence to locate missing persons, acquire forensic data, analyze geolocation records, and use the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.