The Illinois state legislature is working on expanding its Silver Alert program to include missing persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
“You might have somebody that knows that they’re lost, but if you or I were to go and have a conversation,” says Eric Brown with RAMP. “They’re not going to be able to tell us where they live in the city.”
That’s why some lawmakers in Springfield want to change the missing persons act in Illinois to include people with those disabilities who are considered high risk.
“So, adding that language specifically gives the police, gives families the opportunity to have a resource to reach out to to put something out there to know someone’s missing,” Brown says.
Shawn Way is the CEO of Milestone, an organization that helps people with those disabilities lead independent lives. He says the organization provides housing, jobs and outing activities for people. Although way says it’s rare for his residents to wander off or get lost, it’s happened before.
“We just contact all hands on deck,” Way says. “Any and all staff at that home, any staff or supervisory staff of that home, contacted the police they came right out right away.”
Lawmakers say it’s happened twice recently in two different parts of the state, which is why lawmakers came up with a plan to add a new alert. They also say they are still working to define a developmental and intellectual disability in that bill. The Senate is set to vote on the measure in the next couple of weeks.
Read more about this story at WREX-TV.
The latest example of a Silver Alert success story is the case of a 71-year-old man who went missing in North Bergen, New Jersey and was found four states away in Maine.
The man went missing in North Bergen, New Jersey on February 9, after picking up his car from the mechanic. Rather than drive back to his senior living residence, he got on the interstate and headed north.
According to Aimee Focaraccio, coordinator of local assistance program NB CARES, the North Bergen police contacted her because of her work reaching out to people in need. “What happened was, early Friday morning, one of the women from the senior building, she reported her husband and her car missing,” Focaraccio said. “They had been trying to reach him, calling him all day, and he wasn’t answering his phone.”
A Silver Alert for the man was also issued. That alert focuses mainly on seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other mental disabilities. North Bergen police remained in contact with Maine law enforcement through the ordeal. “The state troopers found him, and he was extremely disoriented,” Focaraccio said. The troopers contacted NBPD, and brought the man to a hospital.
The full story is recounted in the Hudson Reporter.
Nursing students and faculty from the University of Alabama-Huntsville took their support of the Silver Alert to Montgomery.
“It’s HB 427 which is the Silver Alert Bill,” Amy Hunter, Clinical Associate Professor at the College of Nursing, said. “That’s just like an Amber Alert but it would be put in place for senior adults, or adults of any age that are affected with cognitive impairment in an instance that they were to go missing.”
These students are members of Nursing 312, an independent gerontology course at the college.
“We are currently talking about Alzheimer’s, dementia, and this is something we felt would be a good professional advocacy for us to participate in,” Hunter said.
The Silver Alert bill would push for more training for law enforcement officers, and anyone, who helps search for a missing person with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Read more at WHNT-TV.