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OLR Research Report


January 7, 2009

 

2009-R-0008

SILVER ALERT LEGISLATION

By: Nicole Dube, Legislative Analyst II

You asked for information regarding Silver Alert programs. Specifically, you wanted to know which states have Silver Alert programs, the programs' eligibility and procedural requirements, and whether these states had any comments on their programs' effectiveness.

SUMMARY

“Silver Alert” or “Senior Alert” programs help identify and locate missing seniors with cognitive impairments. Modeled after the federal Amber Alert system for abducted children, Silver Alert programs create an emergency notification system in which law enforcement agencies broadcast local, regional, or statewide public alerts for missing seniors and other individuals with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer's disease. Broadcasts may be issued using radio, television, and electronic highway signs.

We found 13 states with Silver Alert programs: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. Five states (Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) are currently considering legislation to establish such programs. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to establish a national, coordinated Silver Alert system that includes federal grants to develop and enhance state programs (H.R. 6064). The U.S Senate failed to act on a similar bill (S. 3579). Legislation may be reintroduced during the next congressional session.

Program requirements and processes vary across states, but generally an individual must be at least 60 years old and have Alzheimer's disease or some other verifiable cognitive impairment, and a local law enforcement agency must determine that his or her disappearance poses a serious risk to the person's health and safety. (We included state programs that also cover missing adults.) These programs generally cost little or no money because they are integrated into states' established Amber Alert systems.

We contacted all 13 states with Silver Alert programs and received eight responses. Because these programs are relatively new, states did not have any formal data on best practices or program effectiveness. Anecdotally, all but one state found the program to be effective. Responding states identified program scope, funding, training, and increased law enforcement burden as critical factors to program success.

Table 1 summarizes each state program; complete program descriptions are provided in the following section.

Table 1: State Senior Alert Programs

State

Eligibility Requirements

Administering Agency

Alert Protocol

Number of Alerts Issued

Colorado

residents age 60 and older with a mental impairment

residents any age with a developmental disability

written documentation of the person's disability provided

Colorado Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

local law enforcement agency contacts CBI or media outlets directly

alert broadcast to law enforcement agencies and media outlets

electronic highway signs used if a vehicle is involved

alert rebroadcast every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours and every 30 minutes after

not available

Delaware

residents who are disabled, suicidal, or over age 60

Delaware State Police

local law enforcement agency sends alert to designated media outlets

information entered into the NCIC and Delaware Criminal Justice information systems

not available

Georgia

“disabled adults” with cognitive or developmental or impairments

information available to provide the public to assist in the person's location

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)

local law enforcement agency enters information in NCIC system and contacts GBI

GBI faxes and emails alert to all law enforcement centers, participating media outlets, and the Georgia Lottery Corporation

alerts do not use EAS to interrupt broadcast programming

68 alerts have been issued since July 2006; all missing persons have been found

Florida

adults age 60 and older with dementia

adults under age 60 with dementia “under extraordinary circumstances”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

statewide alerts issued when a vehicle is involved

local alerts issued in all other situations at the local law enforcement agency's discretion

27 alerts have been issued since October 2008; all were found, six specifically because of the alert

Kentucky

“impaired adults” at least 18 years old

must have a verified mental or cognitive impairment

Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (DEM)

local law enforcement agency contacts the local emergency management director, local search and rescue coordinator, local media outlets, and DEM

not available

Missouri

missing at-risk adults or children who do not qualify for Amber Alert

disappearance is unexplained, involuntary, or suspicious

missing person is believed to be in danger due to age, health, disability, environment, or other factors

sufficient information is available to help the public assist in the missing person's recovery

Missouri State Highway Patrol (SHP)

local law enforcement agency faxes information to SHP

SHP issues alert to all law enforcement agencies and participating media outlets

“A Child Is Missing” nonprofit contacts local residents and business using an automated phone system

“Project Alert” program provides volunteer retired law enforcement to assist with the investigation

not available

North Carolina

individuals of any age with dementia or other cognitive impairments

North Carolina Center for Missing Persons (NCCMP), a division of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety

local law enforcement agency contacts NCCP; both disseminate the alert

information entered in NCIC system

all law enforcement agencies and participating media outlets are notified

reverse 911 calling system used to notify businesses

electronic road signs may be used if appropriate

151 alerts issued since 2007; all but six individuals were found alive

Ohio

seniors age 65 and older

missing adults age 18 and older with mental impairments

Ohio Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Agency

local law enforcement enters information into NCIC system

alerts must be activated by the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation

statewide law enforcement agencies, participating media outlets, and Ohio Lottery Terminals notified

Truckers' Alert system activated

alerts do not use EAS to interrupt broadcast programming

not available

Oklahoma

seniors with cognitive impairments, including dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS)

DPS notifies all law enforcement agencies and participating media outlets

alerts broadcast through the NOAA weather radio system

alerts do not use EAS to interrupt broadcast programming

11 alerts issued since June 2007; all individuals were found

Rhode Island

residents age 60 and older with a mental impairment

written documentation verifying the person's impairment

Rhode Island State Police (RSP)

RSP notifies the state Broadcaster's Association who distributes information to participating media outlets

electronic road signs are used if a vehicle is involved

alerts do not use EAS to interrupt broadcast programming

1 alert issued since September 2008; the individual was found but not because of the alert

Texas

residents age 65 and older with a verifiable mental impairment

alert request must be made within 72 hours of the disappearance

local law enforcement ruled out alternative explanations for the disappearance

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

DPS issues alert to all law enforcement agencies, primary media outlets, Texas Lottery Commission, Independent Bankers Association of Texas, and the Department of Transportation

electronic road signs used if vehicle is involved

73 alerts issued since September 2007; 67 individuals were safely recovered, 21 because of the alert

Virginia

adults age 60 and older with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia

missing person must be unable to provide self-care without assistance from a caregiver

Virginia State Police (VSP)

alerts may be issued locally, regionally, or statewide

local law enforcement makes issues local alert after consulting with VSP

EAS used to notify media outlets who transmit the information to the public

VSP also uses a statewide telecommunications database, a software system that creates posters of missing persons, and the state Missing Person Information Clearinghouse

7 alerts issued since July 2007; 5 individuals were found, none as a result of the program

STATE SILVER ALERT PROGRAMS

Colorado

Colorado passed legislation in 2006 establishing its Senior Alert program (SB06-057); the legislature expanded the program in 2007 to include individuals with developmental disabilities of any age (HB07-1005). The Colorado Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Investigation (CBI) administers the program, which is funded within existing resources.

An alert may only be issued for a missing Colorado resident who is at least 60 years old with a mental impairment, or who is of any age with a developmental disability. Local law enforcement must first verify the person's disability and determine that the disappearance poses a credible threat to his or her well-being. The missing person's family or caretaker must provide written documentation of the person's disability to local law enforcement.

Once eligibility requirements are met, the local agency may notify CBI, which confirms the information and issues the alert. (Local law enforcement agencies are not required to contact CBI and may contact media outlets directly.) The alert is broadcast to law enforcement

agencies and participating media outlets, including television and radio stations, at designated intervals until CBI cancels the alert. CBI regulations recommend that the alert be rebroadcast every 15 minutes for the first two hours and every 30 minutes after that. (A copy of the regulations are enclosed.)

According to CBI's Kristina Bomba, if a vehicle is involved in the disappearance, CBI contacts the Colorado Department of Transportation, which posts the alert on electronic highway signs. Bomba states that eight alerts have been issued since the program began.

Delaware

Delaware established a “Gold Alert Program” on July 17, 2008 (SB 227, codified as 11 Del. Laws, c.85, 8580-8583). The program creates a notification system for missing Delaware residents who are disabled, suicidal, or over age 60 and whose disappearance poses a credible threat to their health and safety. The Delaware State Police administers the program.

Before an alert is issued, the investigating law enforcement agency must obtain information from the person's family or legal guardian verifying the person's disappearance and enter it in the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system. The agency must also notify the Delaware Information Analysis Center (DIAC).

Once the information has been entered and verified, the investigating law enforcement agency must send an alert to designated media outlets. The alert must include all information that may assist in the person's safe return. The alert is cancelled upon notification by the investigating law enforcement agency.

Georgia

Georgia's alert program, “Mattie's Call,” was established in April of 2006 (HB 728; 2008 legislation, SB 202, re-codified the program under O.C.G.A 35-3-170 through 35-3-190). It was created in response to the disappearance and death of Mattie Moore, an 86-year old Atlanta resident with Alzheimer's disease who wandered from her home.

The program created a statewide emergency notification system for missing disabled adults. Georgia law defines “disabled adults” as adults who are developmentally impaired or who suffer from dementia or some

other cognitive impairment. The law requires staff of personal care homes to report a missing disabled person within 30 minutes of discovering the person's disappearance.

The alert system is activated if the following conditions are met:

1. a local law enforcement agency believes a disabled adult is missing and in immediate danger of serious injury or death,

2. the agency's investigation verifies the disappearance and eliminates alternative explanations,

3. sufficient information is available to provide to the public that could assist in locating the missing person, and

4. the missing person is entered into the NCIC database.

Once these criteria are met, the local law enforcement agency contacts the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which administers the program. According to GBI's John Bankhead, local law enforcement agencies fax the alert information to GBI's 24-hour communications center. GBI issues a statewide broadcast to all law enforcement centers and participating media outlets via fax and email. Information is also sent to the Georgia Lottery Corporation which notifies all convenience stores that sell lottery tickets. Individuals can also sign up on GBI's website to receive email alerts.

These alerts do not interrupt broadcast programming using the Emergency Action System (EAS) as is the case when an Amber Alert is issued for an abducted child. According to Bankhead, advocates wanted the same protocol followed as the Amber Alert system, but some stakeholders were concerned that this would lead to system overuse, causing people to pay less attention to the alerts.

Since the program's implementation in July 2006, 68 alerts have been issued. All missing persons have been found, although Bankhead notes that the number of recoveries directly attributable to the alert program is unknown. Because the program was integrated into the existing Amber Alert infrastructure, the only additional costs are the alert faxes, which Bankhead states are absorbed within GBI's existing resources.

Florida

Governor Crist established Florida's Silver Alert program by Executive Order in October 2008. (A copy of the order, 08-211, is enclosed.) The program was created in response to the death of 86-year old Mary Zelter, a woman with dementia, who signed herself out of an assisted living facility and accidentally drove into the intercoastal waterway.

To qualify for an alert, the missing person must be at least 60 years old and have “an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties” (i.e. dementia). An alert may be issued for a missing adult with dementia under age 60 “under extraordinary circumstances” if law enforcement determines the missing person lacks the capacity to consent and that the alert may be the only way to rescue him or her. Local law enforcement must investigate the disappearance, verify the person's condition, and determine that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the person's safety and well-being.

Statewide alerts are issued only when a vehicle is involved in the disappearance. Local alerts are issued in all other situations at the local law enforcement agency's discretion. Agencies contact media outlets in their immediate or surrounding jurisdictions. According to Donna Hodges of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse, this is because most individuals who disappear on foot are typically found within a mile of their starting location.

If a vehicle is involved in the disappearance, the local agency must verify the vehicle and license plate information and contact the FLDE Clearinghouse. The agency must also enter the missing person into the Florida Crime information Center and issue a statewide “Be On the Look Out” request to other law enforcement agencies and 911 centers. FDLE determines if the information is broadcast regionally or statewide. It submits the vehicle information to Transportation Department for display on electronic road signs. The signs remain activated for up to six hours unless the alert is cancelled. FDLE also contacts the Highway Patrol Communications Center which faxes and emails the alert to its regional offices.

According to Hodges, 27 alerts have been issued since the program began in October. All 27 missing persons were found, six of whom were found specifically because of the alert. The program is funded within FDLE's existing budget; it received no specific appropriation.

Kentucky

2008 legislation established Kentucky's Golden Alert program in July 2008 (SB 125, codified as KRS 39F.010, .020, .180). It is a statewide alert program for “impaired adults,” who are at least 18 years old, have a verified mental or cognitive impairment, and whose disappearance local law enforcement determines poses a credible threat to the person's health or safety.

Before the program's implementation, police were required to wait 72 hours before looking for missing adults. Now a search for an impaired adult can begin immediately. Once the local law enforcement agency investigates and verifies the disappearance, it must contact the local emergency management director, local search and rescue coordinator, local media outlets, and the state Division of Emergency Management, which administers the program.

Louisiana

In 2008, the Louisiana legislature enacted legislation creating a Silver Alert program to identify and locate missing adults with a mental impairment, including Alzheimer's disease or dementia (Act No. 662). The legislation, which took effect August 15, 2008, created a Silver Alert Steering Committee chaired by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Committee members include representatives from the Department of Transportation, the Governor's Office of Elder Affairs, law enforcement and media associations, and the state Alzheimer's Association. The committee is charged with developing recommendations regarding Silver Alert program criteria, procedures, training, and anything else necessary for the program's implementation. It must submit recommendations to the legislature two months before the start of the 2009 session. The program will be implemented in 2009.

Missouri

Missouri created an Endangered Person Advisory Program in May 2007. The program is not limited to missing seniors; it covers missing children who do not qualify for the Amber Alert program and missing at-risk adults. To activate an alert, local law enforcement must determine that the missing person meets the following criteria:

1. the person does not qualify for the Amber Alert program;

2. the person is missing under unexplained, involuntary, or suspicious circumstances;

3. the person is believed to be in danger due to age, health, disability, weather, environment, or other factors; and

4. information is available that could help the public assist in the missing person's recovery.

If the criteria are met, the local law enforcement agency faxes the information, including photographs and maps, to the State Highway Patrol which then activates the alert. The information is entered into the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) and the NCIC. All law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and media all notified. A Child Is Missing, a national nonprofit organization created to assist in locating missing children and disabled and elderly adults, contacts local residents and businesses using an automated phone system. Project Alert, a program funded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, also provides volunteer retired federal, state, and local law enforcement to assist with the investigation.

The program is a voluntary partnership between the state's departments of Public Safety and Health and Senior Services; Highway Patrol; and Police Chiefs', Sherrifs', and Broadcasters' Associations. Because the program was integrated into the existing Amber Alert program there are no additional program costs.

North Carolina

The North Carolina legislature created its Silver Alert program in 2007 (North Carolina General Statute 143B-499.8). The program is administered by the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons (NCCMP), a division of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

NCCMP will issue a Silver Alert for missing persons believed to have dementia or other cognitive impairments regardless of age. Documentation of the missing person's cognitive impairment and state residency are not required. According to NCCMP's Nona Everette, when

the program first began, it was limited to individuals with cognitive impairments over age 18. But, the legislature removed the age limit so that the program would cover autistic children who fell outside the scope of the Amber Alert program. (Amber Alert programs only cover abducted children age 17 and younger and not those missing voluntarily.)

In order to activate an alert, the missing person's family or legal guardian must file a report with the local law enforcement agency. The agency must investigate the disappearance to determine if it meets the program's qualifying criteria. If it does, the law enforcement agency must report the incident to NCCP and request issuance of the alert. Both NCCP and the local law enforcement agency collaborate to disseminate the information to the public. Table 1 describes the protocol they follow:

Table 1: North Carolina Silver Alert Protocol

Law Enforcement Agency Responsibilities

NCCP Responsibilities

Enter missing person information into the NCIC system

Update information on the department's website

Initiate a statewide “be on the lookout” bulletin to all appropriate law enforcement agencies

Notify the local media about the missing person, including pictures when possible (media participation is voluntary)

Provide a 24-hour phone number to receive calls during the investigation

Request the Department of Transportation to activate highway message signs if appropriate.

Activate phone calls in the immediate area using a type of reverse 911 calling system. (Using the A Child is Missing program, law enforcement can notify 1,000 businesses or resident per minute.)

Cancel the alert once the missing person is located.

Notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (if the person is 21 or younger)

 

Source: North Carolina Silver Alert Program website, last visited on January 2, 2009.

According to Everette, specific health information about the missing person, except the belief that the person suffers from dementia, is not released. This is done to protect the person from potential abuse, harm, or exploitation. Since the program began in 2007, Everette stated that 151 alerts have been issued; all but six individuals were found alive.

Ohio

In 2008, Ohio passed legislation creating a “Missing Adult Alert System” to identify and locate missing seniors age 65 and older and adults age 18 and older with mental impairments (Senate Bill 87). The program, which took effect on June 20, 2008, is administered by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, a division of the state's Department of Public Safety. The goal of the legislation was to create a coordinated notification system that could distribute timely information to the media and public.

Local law enforcement must investigate the disappearance to determine if it meets the program's criteria. In addition to age and medical requirements, the disappearance must pose a credible threat of immediate danger or serious harm to the missing person. There must also be enough descriptive information about the missing person to indicate that an alert would help locate him or her.

If all criteria are met, local law enforcement may request issuance of an alert by entering the information into the NCIC, which notifies the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. All alerts must be activated through the Attorney General's office. According to the program's website, once the alert is activated, the following protocol is followed:

1. a toll-free telephone line for alert information is activated,

2. statewide participating media outlets are notified by email and fax,

3. the alert is posted on Department of Transportation road signs and electronic billboards in the immediate area of the alert,

4. all law enforcement agencies in the state receive information about the alert,

5. the Truckers' Alert system is activated to notify all truckers in the alert area.

6. the alert is posted on all Ohio Lottery terminals, and

7. special law enforcement response teams and programs are offered to assist in the search.

The program was integrated into the state's existing Amber Alert system and did not receive additional funding. Media participation is voluntary, and alerts do not activate the Emergency Alert System used for Amber Alerts.

Oklahoma

In March 2006, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution encouraging the Department of Public Safety (DPS), in partnership with local law enforcement agencies and media officials, to

implement a statewide Silver Alert program to find missing seniors. (A copy of House Resolution 1075 is enclosed). DPS implemented the program in June of 2007 with no additional funding.

Alerts are issued for missing seniors with cognitive impairments, including dementia and Alzheimer's disease. DPS provides a description of the missing person and his or her last known location to all law enforcement agencies and participating media outlets. Alerts are also broadcast through the NOAA weather radio system. Unlike the Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts do not use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to interrupt broadcast programming.

In October 2008, DPS submitted an interim study on the Silver Alert program to the Oklahoma House Human Services Committee (A copy is enclosed.) Because the program was created by a resolution, it is not required under state law. The study noted that advocates would like the program codified into law, but DPS officials feel this is unnecessary. DPS also noted that the program does not appear to be overused, which was a concern prior to its implementation. Eleven missing seniors have been safely recovered since the program began.

Rhode Island

2008 legislation created a Missing Senior Citizen Alert program for Rhode Island residents over age 60 with an impaired mental condition (R.I. General Laws 42-28-3.3). A local law enforcement agency must investigate the disappearance, determine that it poses a credible threat to the person's health and safety, and obtain written documentation verifying the person's mental impairment. If all criteria are met, the agency contacts the State Police which initiates the alert. The State Police

notifies the Rhode Island Broadcaster's Association by phone, which then distributes the information to its participating media outlets (participation is voluntary). If a vehicle is involved in the disappearance, the State Police contacts the Department of Transportation, which broadcasts the alert on electronic road signs.

According to State Police Captain James Swanberg, the senior alerts do not interrupt broadcast programming using the EAS because of stakeholders' concerns that this would lead to system overuse and diminish the alerts' effect. Only one alert has been issued since the program began in September. The missing person was found, although according to Swanberg, not because of the alert.

Texas

Texas legislation created a Silver Alert Program in September 2007 (Texas Government Code 411.381- 411.389). The Department of Public Safety (DPS), Governor's Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) administers the program. According to DPS's Sam Allen, program costs are covered by the existing DPS budget and a grant from the Governor's Office.

A law enforcement agency may request an alert for a missing resident at least 65 years old if the following criteria are met:

1. the person has a mental impairment verified by written documentation,

2. the request is made within 72 hours of the person's disappearance,

3. the disappearance poses a credible threat to the person's health and safety,

4. there is sufficient information to provide the public to assist in locating the person, and

5. a local law enforcement investigation has ruled out alternative explanations for the disappearance.

Once DPS confirms all criteria are met, an alert is issued to law enforcement agencies, primary media outlets, Texas Lottery Commission, Independent Bankers Association of Texas, and the Department of Transportation. Highway signs are activated only if accurate vehicle information is available and the missing person was driving the vehicle at the time of the disappearance.

According to Allen, 73 alerts have been issued since the program began. Six seniors remain missing while the other 67 were safely recovered, 21 specifically because of the alert. The alert is issued for 24 hours, unless the investigating law enforcement agency asks for an extension. The program does not use the EAS to notify the public.

Virginia

Virginia established its Senior Alert program in July 2007, as a result of bipartisan legislation developed by the Attorney General's Office and the Virginia Alzheimer's Association (Virginia Code 52-34.5., 52-34.6) The program, which is administered by the Virginia State Police, issues alerts for missing individuals over age 60 with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The missing person must be unable to provide self-care without assistance from a caregiver, and local law enforcement must determine that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the person's health and safety.

Senior alerts may be issued locally, regionally, or statewide. Local law enforcement must make the decision to initiate a local alert after consulting with the State Police. An agency must act within two hours of filing a missing person report if all Senior Alert criteria are met. Under prior law, local authorities were unable to declare an alert. The State Police determines whether a regional or statewide alert is issued.

The program uses several methods to disseminate the alerts, including:

1. COMLabs Emergency Network System (EMNet), a computer system that uses the Virginia EAS to notify public radio, television, and other media outlets which then transmit the information to the public;

2. Virginia Criminal Information Network, a telecommunications database of missing persons information available to law enforcement agencies at all times;

3. Lost Child Alert Technology Resource System (LOCATOR), a software system that creates posters of missing children for local, statewide, and national distribution that can also be used to make posters of missing seniors; and

4. Virginia Missing Person Information Clearinghouse, a State Police operation that can scan photos and enter information onto the State Police Senior Alert website.

According to the State Police's Lt. Patrick Fagan, seven alerts have been issued since the program began. Five missing persons were recovered, none as a result of the program. The program receives no additional funding; program costs come from the State Police's existing resources.

STATES WITH PENDING LEGISLATION

Illinois

The House and Senate are considering separate bills to create a state Silver Alert program. Senate Bill 3058 establishes a notification system for missing endangered seniors that uses the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Transportation (for broadcast on highway signs), and the EAS to issue alerts. House Bill 6659 creates a notification system in the Department of State Police for missing adults age 55 and older with dementia or other cognitive impairment. It creates a Silver Alert System Task Force and establishes a protocol for issuing the alert using law enforcement agencies, media outlets, and electronic highway signs.

Michigan

In 2007, the House passed House Bill 4819 (Substitute H-1), the “Mozelle Senior Medical Alert Act.” The bill creates a notification system for missing residents age 60 and older and requires local law enforcement to prepare a missing persons report within five hours of receiving notification of a missing senior. It establishes a protocol to broadcast the information through law enforcement agencies and media outlets and also offers certain civil immunity to media participants. The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.

New Jersey

The legislature is considering legislation to create a Silver Alert program. (Three bills, A-2844, A-2907, and A-277 were originally introduced and then combined into a substitute bill by the Law and Public Safety Committee.) The bill establishes a statewide notification system for missing seniors age 65 and older administered by the Attorney General's Office in cooperation with the State Police. Media participation is voluntary; alerts would be broadcast as often as possible for the first three hours, then at intervals determined by law enforcement and participating media outlets. The bill also requires the use of electronic highway signs when appropriate.

New York

In 2008, the New York legislature passed the Alzheimer's Services Act of 2008 (S07585). The act created a Silver Alert program for missing persons with cognitive impairments administered by the state's Office for the Aging. The act established program procedures and required the alert to be issued within 12 hours of receiving the missing person's report or within 24 hours of learning of the disappearance, whichever is sooner. The alert would be issued to the local Area Agency on Aging, other appropriate state agencies, law enforcement agencies, participating media outlets, and the Department of Transportation (for broadcast on electronic highway signs if appropriate).

Despite supporting the act's intent, Governor Paterson vetoed it in November 2008. Citing fiscal concerns, he called for the program to be absorbed within the state's existing Amber Alert program.

Pennsylvania

The House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services is currently considering House Bill 2558, which creates a Silver Alert program for missing seniors age 65 and older with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. The program would be administered by the state's Department of Aging, in cooperation with the State Police. The bill establishes a protocol for issuing an alert, which includes statewide notification of law enforcement agencies and participating media outlets (media participation is voluntary).

FEDERAL LEGISLATION

In April 2008, Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) introduced, “The Silver Alert Grant Program Act of 2008” (H.R. 5898). The bill establishes federal grants of at least $100,000 per state to create or improve Silver Alert programs for missing seniors and individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. It requires the attorney general to administer the program and develop best practices and procedures for states to implement voluntarily. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

In May 2008, Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) introduced legislation expanding H.R. 5898 by adding provisions to create a coordinated national Silver Alert network in all 50 states. The bill (H.R. 6064) directs the attorney general to create a Silver Alert coordinator position in the Justice Department to develop a nationally coordinated program and establish best practices, guidelines, and procedures for states to implement voluntarily. The coordinator would consult with several federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission, Agency on Aging, and state and

local law enforcement agencies and broadcasters. The bill also includes federal grants in H.R. 5898 to provide states to develop and enhance Silver Alert programs, although it does not specify grant amounts.

H.R. 6064 passed the House in September by a voice vote. U.S. The Senate failed to act on a similar bill (S. 3579) introduced by Senator Mel Martinez (R-Florida). Legislation may be reintroduced during the next congressional session.

PROGRAM EFFECTIVENESS

We asked all 13 states with Silver Alert programs to comment on their programs' effectiveness; eight responded. Because these programs are relatively new, the states did not have any formal data on best practices or program effectiveness. Anecdotally, all but one state found the program to be effective.

We also asked states to specify the most important factors to consider before establishing a Silver Alert program. Most states identified program scope as critical for success. North Carolina's Nona Everette feels the state's program scope is too large and recommends a smaller, clearly defined eligible population. North Carolina statutes require an alert be issued for any person “believed to be suffering” from dementia or other cognitive impairment regardless of age. Everette notes that the lack of a clear definition for this term creates confusion about eligibility and strains program capacity. But, Virginia's Lt. Fagan advocates for an alert system that covers all endangered adults rather than just seniors. Fagan notes that Virginia's program, which covers adults with cognitive impairments over age 60, creates a large population of missing persons who do not qualify for either Amber or Silver Alerts and who may benefit from them.

Other issues states identified include lack of funding, training, and increased burden placed on law enforcement. Because states generally must absorb program costs within existing agency budgets, there is little or no funding available to train law enforcement personnel on the program. Oklahoma Silver Hair Legislature's Dorothy Cassel believes increased awareness of Silver Alert programs is needed among law enforcement agencies, media outlets, and the public. Most states also expressed concerns over the strain placed on law enforcement personnel who take on additional program duties within existing resources.

HYPERLINKS

Colorado Senate Bill 2006-057, An Act Concerning Creation of the Missing Senior Citizen Alert Program, http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics2006a/csl.nsf/billcontainers/8B89ECBF38BD735F872570C9005E1204/$FILE/057_enr.pdf, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Colorado House Bill 2007-1005, An Act Concerning An Alert Program for Missing Persons With Developmental Disabilities, http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2007a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/C99F45DDDFBC8C9187257251007B66AD?open&file=1005_enr.pdf, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Delaware 2008 Senate Bill 227, An Act to Amend Title 11 of the Delaware Code Relating to Missing Persons, http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis144.nsf/vwLegislation/SB+227/$file/legis.html?open, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Delaware Gold Alert Program Authorizing Statutes, (11 Del. Laws, c.85, 8580-8583) http://delcode.delaware.gov/title11/c085/sc07/ index.shtml#TopOfPage, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation, “Mattie's Call” program website, http://amber.gbi.georgia.gov/00/channel_modifieddate/0,2096,67865199_74426401,00.html, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Georgia 2006 House Bill 728, “Mattie's Call Act,” http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005_06/pdf/hb728.pdf, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Georgia 2008 Senate Bill 202, “Mattie's Call Act,” http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2007_08/pdf/sb202.pdf, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Illinois 2008 Senate Bill 3058, An Act Concerning State Government, http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/95/SB/09500SB3058.htm, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Illinois 2008 House Bill 6659, An Act Concerning State Government, http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/95/HB/ 09500HB6659.htm, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Kentucky 2008 Senate Bill 125, An Act Relating to Impaired Adults, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/08RS/SB125.htm, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Kentucky Golden Alert Program authorizing statutes (KRS 39F.010, .020, .180), http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/039F00/CHAPTER.HTM, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Louisiana 2008 Public Act 662, http://www.legis.state.la.us/ billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=503811, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Michigan 2007 House Bill 4819 (Substitute H-1), the “Mozelle Senior Medical Alert Act,” http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(tv2frab55pvqb4ultg0l5g55))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2007-HB-4819, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Missouri Endangered Persons Advisory Program website, http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/PatrolDivisions/DDCC/EndangeredPersonAdvisory/aboutEndangeredPersonAdvisory.html, last visited on January 2, 2009.

National Association of State Units on Aging, “Silver Alert Initiatives in the States,” May 1, 2008, http://www.nasua.org/pdf/Silver%20Alert%20Initiatives%20in%20the%20states.pdf, last visited on January 2, 2009.

New Jersey 2008 Silver Alert legislation, http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2008/Bills/A3000/2844_U2.PDF, last visited on January 2, 2009.

New York Senate Bill S07585, the “Omnibus Alzheimer's Services Act of 2008,” http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S07585&sh=t, last visited on January 2, 2009.

North Carolina Silver Alert program authorizing statutes (North Carolina General Statute 143B-499.8), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByChapter/Chapter_143B.html, last visited on January 2, 2009.

North Carolina Silver Alert Program website, http://www.nccrimecontrol.org/Index2.cfm?a=000003,000005,000081,001670, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Ohio Missing Adult Alert legislation (2008 Senate Bill 87), http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=127_SB_87, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Ohio Missing Adult Alert program website, http://www.missingadults.ohio.gov/OhioMAA/Home.aspx, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Oklahoma House Resolution 1075, http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us /TextOfMeasures/TextOfMeasures.aspx, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Pennsylvania 2008 House Bill 2558, An Act Relating to a Silver Alert Program for Missing Senior Citizens, http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2007&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=2558&pn=3807, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Rhode Island Missing Senior Citizen Alert program authorizing statutes (Rhode Island General Laws 42-28-3.3), http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/statutes/title42/42-28/42-28-3.3.htm, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Texas Silver Alert program statutes, Government Code 411.381- 411.389, http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/gv.toc.htm, last visited on January 2, 2009.

U.S. House of Representatives, 2008 H.R. 5898, The Silver Alert Grant Program Act of 2008, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c110:4:. /temp/~c110xNqH07, last visited on January 2, 2009.

U.S. House of Representatives, 2008 H.R. 6064, The National Silver Alert Act, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR06064: @@@T, last visited on January 2, 2009.

U.S. Senate, 2008 S. 3579, The National Silver Alert Act, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN03579:, last visited on January 2, 2009.

Virginia Senior Alert program authorizing statutes (Virginia Code 52-34.5., 52-34.6), http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi bin/legp504 .exe?000+cod+ 52-34.5, last visited on January 2, 2009.

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