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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


Silver Alert Success Story: 88-Year-Old Oklahoma Man Found in Texas

On October 11, 2019, a Silver Alert was issued for 88-year-old James Skinnell. Skinnell went missing in Del City, Oklahoma and was found safe 200 miles away in Arlington, Texas.

According to the news story on KOKH-TV:

DEL CITY, Okla (KOKH) — Update: Police say Mr. Skinnell was found safe in Arlington, TX. — The Del City Police Department is asking for your help finding an elderly man who is in trouble. Police have told FOX 25 News they are looking for 88-year old James Skinnell. Skinnell was last heard from Thursday evening and was found to be missing by his son Friday monring. His son told police both Skinnell and his dog were not at the home at 9:30 am but his dog was found wandering the area by a neighbor.

Senator Warner Demands Implementation Timeline for Ashanti Alert

Senator Mark Warner has been a tireless champion of missing persons and a strong advocate for implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act of 2018.

In March, Warner wrote to Attorney General William Barr, seeking an update on implementation of Ashanti Alert within the U.S. Department of Justice.

In early April, Warner urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Ashanti Alert program in order to speed its creation and implementation.

In late April, Warner met with the family of Ashanti Billie in Norfolk and urged the Trump administration to take expedited action on the implementation of Ashanti Alert.

In July, Senator Warner met with Deputy Attorney General Katherine Sullivan to discuss steps to implement the Ashanti Alert program within the U.S. Department of Justice. But following the meeting, further implementation was delayed, prompting Warner to increase his criticism of the Justice Department.

“The delayed implementation of this critical public safety program is costing lives,” wrote Warner in his letter. “In our meeting, Ms. Sullivan had shared with me a number of concrete steps she would be taking to speed up implementation, and relayed she understood the importance of getting this alert system up and running in each state. However, in the two months since that meeting, there has been little progress on any of the items we spoke about. As well, the department has subsequently failed to provide my office with any tangible updates or information in follow up emails.”


Silver Alert Success Story: Indiana Couple Found In Chicago

On September 29, 2019, a Silver Alert was issued for 80-year-old couple Jane and William Wallace. The Wallaces went missing in Plymouth, Indiana and was safe 100 miles away in Chicago, Illinois.

According to the news story on WNDU-TV:

PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WNDU) – The Silver Alert for a missing Plymouth couple has been canceled.

Marshall County police say William and Jane Wallace have been safely located in Chicago.

16 News Now has learned the family is on their way to pick up the couple. .

Police in Plymouth are seeking the public’s help to ensure the safe return of William and Jane Wallace.

A Silver Alert was issued Sunday morning for the couple and their 2014 gray Ford Fusion.

William is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 170 pounds. He has gray hair and blue eyes.

Jane is 5 feet, 1 inch and weighs about 100 pounds, with gray hair and brown eyes.

William and Jane are both 80 years old. Both are said to be experiencing suspected symptoms of early dementia.

On Monday at the Wallace home in Plymouth, there were papers on the porch and mail bursting out of the box by the front door.

“I have no words. I will be saying some prayers for them and hope for their safe return, and if anybody knows, I’ll be more than happy to go get them,” neighbor Terry Maas said.