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New Silver Alert Bill Establishes Emergency Alert Plan for Missing Elderly Persons

The State legislature is expected to soon pass a bill that will establish an emergency alert plan to notify the public of a missing elderly person.  This emergency alert plan is based on the “Amber Plan” used by State Police to locate missing children.  The “Amber Plan” is named after Amber Hagerman, a nine-year old Arlington, Texas child, who was abducted and killed in 1996. The bill has passed the Assembly and is expected to pass the Senate without delay.

Under the bill, the emergency alert plan would be a voluntary, cooperative effort between State and local law enforcement agencies and the broadcast media. Upon notice by the State Police, the participating broadcast media would transmit an emergency alert to inform the public of a disappearance of an elderly person in the area.

Under the provisions of the bill, the alerts are to be broadcasted as often as possible, pursuant to the guidelines established by the New Jersey Broadcasters' Association, for the first three hours.  After the initial three hours, the alert shall be rebroadcast at such intervals as the investigating authority, the State Police and the participating media deem appropriate.

The alerts will include a description of the elderly person, and such other information as the State Police may deem pertinent and appropriate. The State Police will also update the broadcast media with new information regarding the missing elderly person when appropriate.

The alerts are to provide information concerning how those members of the public who have information relating to the missing elderly person may contact the State Police or other appropriate law enforcement agency.

Thanks are due to Senator Bill Baroni, the prime sponsor of the bill. "AARP wants to thank Senator Baroni for introducing this important legislation, said Sy Larson, AARP New Jersey State President.  “This  will allow first responders to receive the help of the public at large to quickly locate missing seniors.  Time is so important in these cases, and this bill will be instrumental in protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens."

To thank the Senator for his leadership, please call his district office at 609-631-9988 or senbaroni@njleg.org.

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