California legislators have contemplated Silver Alert bills for years. In October, the California Senior Legislature adopted Silver Alert as its top legislative priority. The most recent of these bills, SB 1047, stands a good chance of passage this year.
SB 1047 would require that if a person is reported missing to a law enforcement agency, and that agency determines that certain requirements are met, including, among others, that the missing person is 65 years of age or older, the law enforcement agency shall request the California Highway Patrol to activate a Silver Alert. The bill would require the California Highway Patrol to, upon activation of a Silver Alert, take certain actions to assist the agency investigating the disappearance.
SB 1047 was introduced by State Senators Elaine Alquist and Lou Correa. It is co-authored in the California Assembly by Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and Roger Dickinson. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 37 to 1. SB 1047 is currently pending in the Assembly, where a hearing has been scheduled for June 19 in the Public Safety Committee.
SB 1047 was recently covered by NBC Bay Area:
State senator Elaine Alquist has co-authored a bill that would establish a silver alert system in California. Simona Walter of San Jose supports the bill.
“We do it for our children so why not don’t for our parents,our aunts and uncles?” ,said Walter.
Her own mother has Alzheimer’s and has consistently wandered. She even left her assisted living home and walked three miles before she was found.
California is by far the largest of states that lack a Silver Alert program to find missing seniors. But a group of advocates in the California Senior Legislature are trying to change that.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Although most wandering seniors are found by police or helpful strangers within a few hours, only half of those who remain lost for more than 24 hours are found alive.
As one of the top proposals of its recent session, the California Senior Legislature, a volunteer advisory body on aging issues, recommended that the state adopt a Silver Alert system to enlist public help in finding lost and fragile seniors. More than 30 states already have some form of the system, which is similar to the Amber Alert network for missing children and piggybacks on the existing technology.
The Silver Alert would require authorities to search immediately when an at-risk adult goes missing, rather than waiting 24 to 48 hours for a missing-person report to be filed. Most Sacramento-area law enforcement agencies already respond quickly when frail seniors wander, but Murphy said a statewide system would impose that standard across California.
“One of the secondary benefits would be increased public awareness,” said Area 4 Agency on Aging planner Will Tift. “It’s very different if you see a small child wandering unattended.
The top legislative priority chosen by the CSL was legislation to enact a statewide Silver Alert program in California.
The Silver Alert Program (SP-10) would establish a missing persons program called Silver Alert to protect persons suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia who might roam away from home. The proposal was authored by Senior Senator Murphy of Tracy.
Ben Adler from Capital Public Radio interviewed California Senior Legislators about their proposal:
You’ve heard of the Amber Alert for kidnapped children. But what about a Silver Alert? Orange County Senior Senator Jim Levy says that would help track down someone with Alzheimer’s or another disease who wanders away from their home.
Levy: “This is an Amber Alert to help find a senior who has dementia who somehow left and doesn’t know how to get back and doesn’t know where he is. The first 24 hours is very important to try to locate this person.”
The Senior Legislature is aware of the budget crisis facing the actual legislature. Levy says adding the Silver Alert to the existing Amber Alert infrastructure can be done at relatively low cost.