WSP ramps up efforts to locate missing Indigenous people

MARYSVILLE, Wash. — Washington State Patrol is making a renewed push to locate missing Indigenous people across Washington.

Two years after the agency introduced a special unit that focuses on finding missing Natives, the Tribal Liaison program just got a major boost.

For the first time since the unit was founded, investigators are listing the identities and ages of missing Natives.

“It’s a peg to hang the hat on. It’s something ironclad that you can put out,” said Chris Loftis, Washington State Patrol.

By publishing names of the disappeared, crime fighters said they hoped it will elicit more information toward missing persons cases involving Natives.

“(Names) are an important part of how we are viewed, and how we view ourselves. Certainly, we want to use that name,” said Loftis.

It comes as Indigenous people face an epidemic of violence.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, 4 in 5 Natives have been the victims of physical violence.

Currently, more than 100 Natives are missing, according to WSP.

In the end, authorities said they hoped to finally give so many families the closure they deserve.

“We need to bring these cases to resolution, even if that, if that resolution is clarity of a tragedy,” Loftis told KIRO 7.

As part of its crime-fighting efforts, WSP now has two full-time staffers who work with tribes and tribal police across the state, hoping to solve cases of people who have disappeared.