Most of us have heard the term Amber Alert. It is a system for getting announcements to law enforcement and the media when a child goes missing. It usually contains a photo, the child’s name and age, a description of what they were wearing and a general description of where they were last seen. Due to the high level of success that these alerts have had, many states are developing additional types of alerts patterned after the Amber Alert.
Today, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia all have some form of what’s known as Silver Alert laws and Ohio’s law will soon join them. Silver Alerts have been modeled after the Amber Alerts formulated in all 50 states. Silver Alerts are intended to notify enforcement agencies that an adult with some form of cognitive impairment has become lost. These individuals are not limited only to seniors, but may also include persons with physical or mental disabilities.
AARP VI believes that it is important that all communities develop systems to protect their most vulnerable citizens and we urge the Virgin Islands government to incorporate a Silver Alert system into its emergency management policies.
“The timing is especially significant for legislation to be introduced,” stated Denyce E. Singleton, AARP VI Senior State Director, “We have a new state-of-the-art emergency warning system in place, and Silver Alerts could easily become part of the new system.”
Singleton is referencing the improvements occurring at the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) which will permit rapid responses to emergencies. The agency is in the process of rolling out brand new technology that will assist residents in the event of disasters. It already includes a VI Alert system, which forwards messages to citizens who have registered a home phone, cell or fax number, or an email address with VITEMA.
In the event of impending weather, tsunamis, earthquakes, beach closings, health warnings or other critical public information announcements, messages or alerts can be sent either to everyone on the list or to targeted individuals, like law enforcement, ambulances or other rapid response teams.
Singleton continued by stating, “With the critical infrastructure already in place, Silver Alert legislation will not cost the territory any additional money for implementation. This legislation could provide meaningful protections for our elderly and disabled populations and add tremendous peace of mind and comfort for their loved ones.”
We, at AARP would like to hear what you think about the need for a Silver Alert law in the Virgin Islands. Please comment on this story below or share your story about how a Silver law might have helped you.