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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

6
Mar

Silver Alert Success Story: 82-Year-Old Arizona Man Found in Texas

On February 28, 2017, a Silver Alert was issued for 82-year-old Christino Vega. Vega went missing in Mesa, Arizona and was found safe 500 miles away in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

From the story on KTAR-92.3 FM:

An elderly diabetic man who went missing from Mesa has been found safe, ending a Silver Alert.

Authorities said Cristino Vega, 82, who suffers from dementia, was found in Texas by border agents.

Vega drove all night. He had last been seen in Mesa near Power Road and University shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

5
Mar

North Dakota Legislators Propose Silver Alert Legislation

 

North Dakota may become the next state to adopt a Silver Alert program for missing seniors. House Bill 1359 was introduced by Representative Alisa Mitskog (D-Wahpeton) on January 16, 2017. H.B. 1359 directs the Superintendent of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Division of State Radio of the Department of Emergency Services to jointly establish a Silver Alert notice system. Such a system would apply to disabled adults, vulnerable elderly adult, or minors with developmental disabilities who have been reported to law enforcement as missing.

H.B. 1359 passed the North Dakota House of Representatives by a vote of 88-4 on February 21, 2017, the bill is currently pending in the Senate, where it has the support of Senators Kelly Armstrong, Jim Dotzenrod, Diane Larson, and Carolyn Nelson.

According to a news story at KVLY-TV in Fargo, North Dakota:

“Law enforcement can alert the public to be on the look out for missing these missing individuals,” said Democrat Representative Alisa Mitskog.

Although there are no guidelines or criteria for the Silver Alert system right now, Represtative Mitskog says the state law enforcement or the legislature would set them.

“We want to avoid overzealous reporting and want to protect one’s privacy,” said Mitskog.

Six out of 10 people with Alzheimers wander away from their home according to the Alzheimer’s Association. One representative signed onto the bill because he experienced his 93-year old aunt going missing.

“3 days ago the police had picked her up and she was in no condition to tell them how she could get home or where she lived or anything,” explained Republican Representative Mark Owens. “So she spent a three day vacation in one of our very nice, efficient hospitals.”

4
Mar

Silver Alert Success Story: 86-year old Kansas Man Found in Oklahoma

On March 2, 2017, a Silver Alert  was issued for 86-year-old Frank E. McMurphy, Jr.. McMurphy went missing in Rose Hill, Kansas, and was later found safe at least 60 miles away Oklahoma.

From the news story at KSNW:

The Rose Hill Police Department reports a missing man who was the subject of a Silver Alert has been found safe and sound by law enforcement officers in Oklahoma.

The search for 86-year-old Frank E. McMurphy Jr. began earlier Thursday when he was last seen driving  his 2006 Orange GMC Canyon pick-up truck.