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What is Silver Alert?

Silver Alert is an Amber Alert for missing seniors.

Silver Alert is a public notification system in the United States to broadcast information about missing persons – especially seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or other mental disabilities – in order to aid in their return.

Silver Alerts use a wide array of media outlets—such as commercial radio stations, television stations, and cable TV—to broadcast information about missing persons. Silver Alerts also use variable-message signs on roadways to alert motorists to be on the lookout for missing seniors. In cases in which a missing person is believed to have gone missing on foot, Silver Alerts have used Reverse 911 or other emergency notification systems to notify nearby residents of the neighborhood surrounding the missing person’s last known location.

Supporters of Silver Alert point to America’s growing elderly population as a reason to support new programs to locate missing seniors. Approximately 6 in 10 dementia victims will wander at least once, health care statistics show, and the numbers are growing worldwide, fueled primarily by Alzheimer’s disease. If not found within 24 hours, up to half of wandering seniors with dementia suffer serious injury or death

Silver Alert Legislation

S. 1814, the National Silver Alert Act of 2013, was introduced by Senator Joe Manchin on December 17, 2013. Senators Jay Rockefeller, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons, Claire McCaskill and Charles Schumer are original co-sponsors of Silver Alert legislation. S. 1814 directs the Department of Justice to establish a national communications network to assist efforts to assist regional and local search efforts for missing seniors and appoints a Department of Justice officer to serve as the Silver Alert Coordinator.  The National Silver Alert Act would also establish minimum standards for using and disseminating alerts issued through the network. Companion Silver Alert legislation, H.R. 5361, was introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL) on July 31, 2014.

Click here for the latest news about Silver Alert legislation.

Silver Alert legislation has been pending in Congress since 2008. In May 2008, Representative Lloyd Doggett introduced the National Silver Alert Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill to encourage, enhance, and integrate Silver Alert plans throughout the United States. Similar legislation was filed by Representatives Gus Bilirakis and Sue Myrick. The three bills were combined into a single bill, H.R. 6064. The bill was passed by the House in September 2008 by a voice vote, but the 110th Congress adjourned before it could be considered in the U.S. Senate. The National Silver Alert Act was re-introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 632. It was passed by the House of Representatives on February 11, 2009 on a voice vote but was not taken up by the Senate.

35 states and New York City have Silver Alert or a similar program to locate missing seniors. The American Silver Alert Coalition supports state legislative efforts to bring Silver Alert to all 50 states.

Silver Alert Success Stories

Silver Alert implementation varies from state to state. There are no national statistics for the success rates of Silver Alerts. However, among states that publicly release statistics, retrieval rates for Silver Alerts indicate a high level of success.

  • In North Carolina, 128 Silver Alerts were issued in 2008. Of these, 118 seniors were safely recovered.
  • In Georgia, Mattie’s Call has as garnered a safe return for 70 of the 71 calls issued between its inception in 2006 and January 2009.
  • In Texas, the Silver Alert system was invoked 52 times in the first year following its inception in September 2007. Of these alerts, 48 of the missing seniors were located safely, and 13 of these recoveries were directly attributable to Silver Alert.
  • In Florida, 136 Silver Alerts were issued in its first year (2008–2009), leading to 131 safe recoveries. 19 of these recoveries were directly attributable to Silver Alert. Over two years, 227 Silver Alerts have been issued in Florida – with 220 seniors located safely, and 36 of those recoveries attributed directly to the Silver Alert.

About the Coalition

The American Silver Alert Coalition is an alliance of concerned citizens and seniors organizations. We are working together toward the shared goals of enacting Silver Alert programs in all 50 states and passage of federal legislation to support state-level Silver Alert programs.

Recent Articles

31
Jul

Wisconsin Marks 1st Anniversary of Silver Alert: 8 Lives Saved

August 1st marks the first anniversary of the Wisconsin Silver Alert program. In its first year of existence the Wisconsin Silver Alert, officials have issued 47 alerts in the state, and 8 safe retrievals were directly attributed to Silver Alert. Of the 47 Alerts issued, four seniors died and one remains missing.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette shared a moving story of one of the seniors located thanks to Silver Alert:

A relatively new Wisconsin law, and a lottery machine, helped save an 84-year-old man who had gone missing.

Patrick Looby was the subject of a Silver Alert — kind of an all-points bulletin issued when a senior citizen is reported missing — after he disappeared en route to a suburban Milwaukee diner earlier this year. When a confused Looby wandered into a store in a neighboring town, a store clerk who had seen the alert on a lottery machine notified authorities. Looby and his wife, Jean, were reunited.

“If it hadn’t been for the Silver Alert, I don’t know what we would have done,” Jean Looby told a Milwaukee television station.

28
Jul

Silver Alert Success Story: 79-year-old Arizona woman found in New Mexico

On July 27, 2015, a Silver Alert was issued for 79-year-old Merittie Turner. Turner went missing in Flagstaff, Arizona and was found safe 500 miles away in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

From the news story on KFOR-TV:

Update: Police say Merittie Turner has been located. She was found in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

FLAGSTAFF, AZ. — Police are looking for 79-year-old Merittie Turner. Merittie was last seen in Flagstaff, Arizona on July 24, 2015. She was reported missing at 8 a.m. She is described as a white female; she was last seen wearing a light colored blouse with black pants.

Police say she is driving a gold 4-door Pontiac Bonneville with an Oklahoma license plate.

Merittie has a heart condition, police say.

She was reportedly on her way to Mannford, Oklahoma, but never arrived.

If you know of Merittie’s whereabouts or see someone who matches her description, please call police.

16
Jul

Silver Alert Success Story: 83-year old Wisconsin Man Found in South Dakota

On July 14, 2015, a Silver Alert  was issued for 83-year-old Hermes Miller. Miller went missing in Janesville, Wisconsin, and was later found safe in Redfield, South Dakota after a trip of more than 650 miles through Dubuque, Rockwell City, Iowa and Winfred, South Dakota.

From the news story at Madison.com:

An 83-year-old Janesville man has been found safe in South Dakota after being missing since Tuesday.

Hermes Miller was found in Redfield, South Dakota, Wednesday afternoon, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office said.

Miller was reported missing at 3 p.m. Tuesday, after his daughter went to his house and couldn’t find him or his minivan.

A Silver Alert was issued statewide at about 10:10 p.m. Tuesday by the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network. The alert is issued for missing persons believed to have dementia or some other cognitive impairment.

Sheriff Robert Spoden said the only way to track Miller’s whereabouts was through his credit card transactions, which ultimately led to South Dakota.

The transactions showed Miller was in South Wayne, Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon, Dubuque on Tuesday night, Rockwell City, Iowa early Wednesday morning, and Winfred, South Dakota around noon on Wednesday.

 

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