Darneille bill to expand endangered missing persons alerts signed by governor

May 17th, 2013|

A bill signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee expands the Missing Children’s Clearinghouse to include the Endangered Missing Persons Clearinghouse. People with developmental disabilities or a vulnerable adult believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, inclement environmental or weather conditions or who is believed to be unable to return to safety on their own may have an Endangered Missing Persons Alert issued on their behalf.

"We are all familiar with the Amber Alert system informing the public about child abductions," said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma. "This bill takes this concept and implements public notification systems about vulnerable or endangered missing persons across the state, launching search efforts quickly and efficiently. We need to make sure we utilize all the systems available to us to help return them to safety as soon as possible."

Under Senate Bill 5556, law enforcement will have the ability to send out alerts more quickly for persons who may have a developmental disability or are aged and disoriented, who are unaccounted for and believed to be in danger. It is possible, for instance, for an elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease to wander from a care facility, or a young person with developmental disabilities to become lost at a group outing. An official missing persons file may be created in the state missing person computerized network after the person in question has been missing for six hours instead of 12 as it was previously.

"Time is of the essence when trying to locate someone who may be missing and in danger. The changes this bill offers to the current system ensures that valuable time is not lost or wasted," said Darneille. "Cooperation between broadcasters, cable systems, local and state law enforcement agencies, social media efforts and help from the public is critical after an advisory is issued."