U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-DE), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to create a nationwide network for locating missing adults and senior citizens. The National Silver Alert Act would create a federal program modeled after the AMBER Alert and provide federal coordination and assistance to local and state law enforcement agencies, similar to a system currently in place in West Virginia.
"The Silver Alert was put in place in West Virginia when I was Governor and has proven to be a positive and effective program since it started in 2009," Senator Manchin said. "In West Virginia, we've been fortunate enough to need the system activated only a handful of times, and we have been very successful in returning those missing individuals home safely. As a proud member on the Special Committee on Aging, I encourage my colleagues to remember that America's priorities should be based on our values, and keeping our promises to our seniors should be one of our highest priorities. Our seniors helped build and defend this nation, and we have an obligation to them that we must never break."
"We know that a strong communications network is critical to first responders when they're dealing with an emergency situation, such as when an elderly person goes missing," said Senator Rockefeller. "The Silver Alert, which is modeled after a successful West Virginia program, has the potential to greatly improve the way we locate missing adults and seniors by allowing for coordination and support across jurisdictions."
"Every day, the families of those suffering with dementia live with the fear that their loved one will go out and forget the way home," Senator Coons said. "Seniors and adults with medical conditions are especially susceptible to illness, injury, or death if they are not found within 24 hours. Since 2008, Delaware's Gold Alert program has coordinated state and local efforts to quickly locate missing seniors and persons with disabilities. This bill will ensure law enforcement officials across the nation have the resources they need to bring lost loved ones home safely."
"When a person with Alzheimer's or dementia wanders from his or her home, it is frightening for that individual and their family and friends," said Senator Schumer. "Statistics show that with timely notification, the chances of finding a missing person are greatly increased. This bill will provide federal coordination and assistance in setting up Silver Alert systems to make sure that we are working with our local, state and federal law enforcement to ensure the protection and care of our senior citizens."
"A rapid response system like Silver Alert will save lives," said Senator McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. "Alerting the public and coordinating search efforts for missing adults and seniors, especially those with disabilities, can only help ensure our families' safety. This program has proven itself to be extremely effective all across the country; implementing it at a federal level is just common sense."
"As Alzheimer's and dementia continue to affect too many Minnesotans, many seniors are at a high risk of ending up lost and in a dangerous situation," Senator Klobuchar said. "This legislation, which is similar to a program already in place in Minnesota, will help law enforcement across the country spread the word anytime a senior has gone missing and help improve the chances that tragedy is averted."
This legislation is supported by the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Foundation of America, Elder Justice Coalition, National Association of Police Organizations and the National Sheriffs' Association.