Biometric technology has helped Hawaiian police to push ahead on a cold case dating back to 2003, allowing them to identify the victim of a suspected homicide almost 13 years after the crime.
The body of a man in his later 40s was discovered near a roadside with signs of blunt force trauma to his head. At the time, his body had decomposed considerably, and police weren’t able to positively identify him. Now, using the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system, the victim has been identified as Bradley Elmer Bussewitz, a man believed to have been a resident of Hawaii Island.
Police still haven’t solved the crime, of course, but this is an important step forward. It highlights the utility of contemporary biometric technology, particularly in the identification of decedents; and it also demonstrates the utility of the FBI’s NGI database at a time when it is the subject of some controversy. Civil liberties advocacy groups have been vocal in their opposition to the FBI’s current effort to exempt NGI from national privacy legislation, while a Government Accountability Office report recently uncovered a secret biometric program that the FBI has undertaken without any substantial oversight.
While these remain thorny issues, this latest instance of biometric identification helps to illuminate the stakes in this debate.
July 8, 2016 – by Alex Perala