The New York Times recently did an article on missing seniors entitled “With Dementia, Stepping Outside for Fresh Air Can Mean Going Astray.” The article had praise for the Silver Alert program currently operating in New York City.
If there is a silver lining to the silver alert, it is this: they generally end well. They differ from other missing-persons cases in that the missing are not hiding from anyone, and are not being held. They drift toward parks, or to the subway. They are usually found in less than 24 hours, said Lt. Christopher Zimmerman, commanding officer of the New York Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit. There have been more than 50 silver alerts since the program began in New York in 2011, but most cases are closed before reaching Lieutenant Zimmerman’s office.
A recent letter to the editor in the Tampa Tribune praised the success of the Florida Silver Alert program:
Did you know in December there were 14 Florida “Silver Alerts” activated, with four in the Tampa Bay area? With the new year upon us, the University of South Florida Memory Disorders Clinic, sponsored by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, would like to remind residents of the importance of the Silver Alert program. The program is designed for missing seniors who are cognitively impaired, extremely vulnerable and can easily become confused and disoriented even in familiar surroundings. We strongly believe Silver Alert is vital for helping law enforcement officers locate these individuals quickly and efficiently, before tragedy occurs.
For more information on the Silver Alert program, please go to http://www.floridasilveralert.com/home. If you have questions, or would like to help or learn more about the Florida Silver Alert program, please call the University of South Florida Memory Disorders Clinic at (813) 974-8900.
Andrea Dombrowski, Tampa
WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee recently profiled the Silver Alert program in Tennessee for its story “Silver Alert an option for law enforcement to help find missing elderly.”
The story highlights the close relationship between local law enforcement and Alzheimer’s organizations in Tennessee to teach Silver Alert best practices to find missing seniors.
“When a senior goes missing, it’s similar to the Amber Alert we have for children,” said the Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Janice Wade-Whitehead.
Silver Alert became law back in 2009, but there’s no state funding for it, so law enforcement has the option whether to participate in the Silver Alert Program.
“It’s infrastructure that’s put into place. There’s lots of educational opportunities for law enforcement to find out more about the Silver Alert,” said Wade-Whitehead.
“The Alzheimer’s association has come over…trained each individual officer,” said Blount County Sheriff, James Lee Berrong.