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.”