What is forensic search and recovery?
Forensic search and recovery is the use of forensic science and related skills, knowledge and experience to locate, recover and return deceased missing persons to their families, friends and communities. It is a continuation of the better known field of search and rescue.
Some of these skills include diving, the use of technology (sonar, magnetometers, etc), archaeological techniques, rock climbing, and a number of others. For historic cases such as those from World War II, a single case may require many hours of archival research to pin down where the search should be conducted.
Isn’t this a job for the local police, the coroner/medical examiner or the federal government?
Yes and no. We work in cooperation with the appropriate authorities and provide resources and skill sets that these agencies do not have. Aside from a few departments in the largest of cities, no one can have all resources available "in house". They also lack the budget surplus to hire outside agencies or train their own personnel in a perishable skill that may not be required in that specific area more than once or twice a year (or less). The efforts to recover a victim's remains in water will often take the area's water rescue team out of service leaving other people at risk. Utilizing Kolibri's resources does not require remove a team from service protecting the lives of their community.
When it comes to cases involving American military personnel missing in action, we operate under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). If you would like a copy of this guiding document please contact our Executive Director, Stephen Richey, at email@example.com.
However, please note that nothing on this website should be taken to imply that our volunteers are agents of DPAA or that we are part of that agency. We work alongside them to whatever degree is required for a particular mission but we are an entirely separate, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization.
Is there really a need for this sort of work?
There is a desperate need for this sort of work. Between civilian missing persons cases and the military missing in action around the world, there are several hundred thousand people who have never been found and returned to their loved ones. The problem is so large that it is impossible to determine the exact number with certainty.
I have a missing loved one. Can you help my family?
The first thing we need to know is whether the missing person is a civilian or a military missing in action case.
If you believe your friend or relative is in immediate danger, please contact your local law enforcement agency at once. We cannot and will not take part in any case in a fashion that might compromise a criminal investigation.
If the proper authorities have been notified, we can attempt to coordinate with the agency (or agencies having jurisdiction) to provide resources at the request of a family or conduct a private search when the official efforts were unsuccessful. Please note: we do NOT charge families for our services but we do rely upon donations from the members of the public to avoid doing so.
MILITARY MISSING IN ACTION
If you are the family member of a service member who is unaccounted for while serving their country, we can help but there is often a need to coordinate with the government beforehand. In the case of a missing American service member, we are required under an existing agreement to coordinate any contact with families of missing military personnel with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and affiliated offices. If you contact us, we will get you in touch with the correct Service Casualty Office (SCO). If you prefer to contact them directly, their information can be found at: https://www.dpaa.mil/Families/Contact-Information/
The unfortunate reasons for this rule is that other organizations (and a few individuals) have caused heartache, grief, and anger among families by making false claims, false promises, etc. An example of this is a self-styled adventurer, who likes to portray himself as part of a larger team, who publicly claims a known crash site of a small airliner that was lost in the 1960s as a missing World War II era transport. Whether the false identification was done intentionally or not is besides the point. A public announcement that the missing had been found caused untold heartache and suffering for those who have waited decades for resolution of their cases.
Also, please note that if you have heard about us conducting a search and/or recovery mission in an area where your loved one is thought to be missing, we cannot release any information on the person(s) our team was seeking, the "tail number" of the aircraft involved (if one was involved), the status of the recovery effort, etc. In order to work with the DPAA, an outside entity is required to work under rules such as those outlined in the memorandum of understanding between Kolibri Forensics and DPAA mentioned above. If you would like to received a copy of the memorandum, please contact us and we will send you a copy.
In the event of cases involving military personnel where DPAA does not have jurisdiction, any releases of information will either be made by the appropriate local authorities (law enforcement, medical examiner/coroner, etc) or after Kolibri has been authorized (in writing) to do so from the agency having jurisdiction.
We do NOT nor will we ever charge families of our fallen servicemen for our services. We rely upon donations from the members of the public, organizations, businesses, etc to avoid doing so. We also do NOT discriminate based upon what country a soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman served for. When we say "Everyone deserves to come home", you will notice that there's no fine print. We mean everyone.
Can I get you to do a presentation/class for my agency, group, church/synagogue/mosque, class or family?
We would love to. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website contact form.
Why is your logo a hummingbird?
'Kolibri' is the German word for hummingbird. It was chosen because despite their small size, hummingbirds are amazingly capable. They are the only birds that can sustain flight in any direction. This means they can fly up, down, left, right, forward or back as their "mission" requires. They also have incredible endurance with some migrating nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico. We strive to provide the same flexibility in our ability to aid others in need. Small but mighty if you will.
Also hummingbirds, for their size, have the largest hearts of any animal at 2.5% of their body weight (versus less than one percent for a human) and thus are a great symbol for the love and compassion that causes us to choose this sort of work.
By the way, our logo hummingbird has a name, Louie. He was named by a little boy when our executive director showed him a business card while explaining our work. "He looks like a Louie". There you have it.
How can I help?
We are glad that you want to help return the missing to their family, friends and communities. There are several ways you can get involved:
-Volunteer your time: we have a role that fits nearly every age, experience, interest and ability
-Tell others about our mission