HONOLULU— Hawaii Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom has introduced (SB 2147) providing for a “Silver Alert” when elderly people go missing.
“This practical bill provides safety for our kupuna and costs the State of Hawaii very little money to implement. It is an alert put out by police on the Maile Amber Alert system when elderly people go missing from their home,” Slom said.
The program is modeled after the Amber Alert Programs that are present in all 50 states and targeted for adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
According to the National Association of State Units on Aging, seven states currently have Silver Alert programs in place. Those are Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Two other states have legislation pending.
Hawaii’s Maile Amber Alert is a voluntary partnership between the police departments, civil defense, local broadcasters and other state agencies.
Bill SB2147 simply calls for the integration of a Silver Alert program with the currently existing Maile Amber Alert program.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2008 study, “2008 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures”, in the year 2000, the approximate number of people aged 65 and over who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease was 23,000. They estimate that by 2010, this number will increase by 17%, to 27,000.
In 2009 the National Alzheimer’s Association made a statement supporting Silver Alert programs (2009 Alzheimer’s Association statement )
The program mandates the development and implementation of a silver alert program amongst the current Maile Amber Alert participants and calls for integration with Maile Amber Alert program.
It also sets forth the criteria for issuance of Silver Alert, including the person is 65 or older, a Hawaii resident, has a documentable impaired mental condition and there is sufficient information that disappearance constitutes a credible threat to health and safety of senior citizen.
How the Maile Amber Alert program currently works
Information on a missing child in presumed danger is called into the respective county’s police department through the 9-1-1 number. A missing persons report is also filed with appropriate information.
If the case meets the criteria for issuing a MAILE AMBER alert, (17 years or younger, sufficient information about abduction and in immediate danger of bodily injury or death, sufficient info about the child and the abductor or abductor’s vehicle), the respective police departments transmit the information to the partners for widespread broadcasting.
Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System to air the description of the child and the abductor. Appropriate state agencies (DOT & State Civil Defense) use the traffic alert system to broadcast the same information.
The Department of the Attorney General’s Missing Child Center is the administrative agency for the partnership, although the police department is the “gate keeper” that is the first point of contact for a parent/guardian of a missing child.