MCSO expanding missing persons unit to name Arizona's nameless

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There's a new push by the MCSO to identify as many as 1,400 people who have died in Arizona, some of them while crossing the border. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There's a new push by the MCSO to identify as many as 1,400 people who have died in Arizona, some of them while crossing the border. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MCSO has been expanding its missing persons unit to take on more cases. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) MCSO has been expanding its missing persons unit to take on more cases. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
“These are fathers, these are brothers, these are aunts, these are uncles. These are people who have not had a voice for a lot of years,” said Det. Tony Rodarte. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) “These are fathers, these are brothers, these are aunts, these are uncles. These are people who have not had a voice for a lot of years,” said Det. Tony Rodarte. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Manpower will be shared among jurisdictions, but MCSO will not turn away a case that another law enforcement agency cannot handle. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Manpower will be shared among jurisdictions, but MCSO will not turn away a case that another law enforcement agency cannot handle. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is about to kick off an aggressive campaign to name Arizona’s nameless. 

The agency has been expanding its missing persons unit to take on more cases.  The goal is to get answers for families with loved ones that vanished in the state, no matter they came from.

The campaign officially kicks off Saturday, Oct. 21, when MCSO hosts its third annual Missing in Arizona event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at ASU West (4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale).

At past events, investigators would get about 25 new missing persons cases and would be able to resolve about half of them. In most cases, the missing individual is found to be deceased.

Now that MCSO will be allowing the public to call year-round to file missing persons reports, no matter how much time has passed, it’s unclear if the department will see a dramatic increase in cases.

“We've practiced law enforcement the way we have for so many years,” says Det. Tony Rodarte, “It hasn’t worked for some of these long-term missings so we need to think outside the box.”

There are about 1,400 unidentified bodies and remains that have been recovered in Arizona, many in our remote deserts. Rodarte says investigators will be working with the Mexican Consulate to try and identify those who lost their lives crossing our southern border.

[RELATED: Volunteers find 5 skeletal remains in Arizona desert (Jan. 3, 2017)]

“We're not letting those barriers prohibit us from being able to do this,” says Rodarte.

DNA testing will be covered through partnerships with the University of North Texas and the National Missing and Unidentified Person System. Manpower will be shared among jurisdictions, but MCSO will not turn away a case that another law enforcement agency cannot handle.

[RELATED: Border deaths rise despite fewer illegal crossings (Oct. 22, 2015)]

“We try to provide solutions instead of excuses,” says Rodarte. “These are fathers, these are brothers, these are aunts, these are uncles. These are people who have not had a voice for a lot of years.”

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