July 11, 2011

Manchin, Kohl Introduce Silver Alert Bill to Help Locate Missing Seniors

System Based on AMBER Alert Is Designed to Locate Missing Adults with Dementia

Washington, D.C.– United States Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, have introduced legislation to create a nationwide network for locating missing adults and senior citizens. The Silver Alert Act, which is currently in place in West Virginia, would create a federal program modeled after the AMBER Alert and provide federal coordination and assistance to local and state law enforcement agencies. 

A similar version of the bill, sponsored by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

“The Silver Alert is something we did – and did well – in West Virginia,” Senator Manchin said. “This system works. In West Virginia, we’ve been lucky enough to only have activated the system about a half dozen times, and we have been very successful in returning those missing individuals home safely. When I think about what this country values, keeping our promises to our seniors is one of my highest priorities. West Virginia’s seniors helped build this nations helped build and defend this nation, and we have an obligation to them that we must never break. That is why I am proud to serve on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, where I will strongly advocate for commonsense policies – like this one -- that improve our seniors’ quality of life.”

“A national Silver Alert system for seniors who go missing will keep our nation’s seniors safe and bring peace of mind to many concerned families,” said Senator Kohl. “With half a million new cases of Alzheimer’s every year, the need for a national system will only grow.”

The bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a national communications network to assist efforts to assist regional and local search efforts for missing seniors and appoints a Department of Justice officer to serve as the Silver Alert Coordinator. The bill also establishes minimum standards for using and disseminating alerts issued through the network.

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.