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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Senate votes in favor of Silver Alert System

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A state Senate committee voted Wednesday in favor of establishing a Silver Alert system.

Similar to Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts would be issued by police, voluntarily broadcast by TV and radio stations and posted on Web sites when an adult is believed to be in danger.

The bill was authored by Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis and establishes an alert system similar to the Amber Alert for abducted children.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 110,000 Hoosiers are afflicted with the disease that destroys memory. This often results in patients who become confused and wander.

The new Silver Alert enables police agencies to trigger a public alert to broadcasters. Advocates said enlisting the public's assistance could help in locating patients who are wandering or confused.

For patients who wander, go missing and aren't located within 24 hours, however, there is a high risk of serious injury or death.

Senior citizens' groups such as the Alzheimer's Association, AARP and the Division on Aging support the bill.

At least 10 other states have created versions of the Silver Alert.

"I think it's a great idea," said Putnam County Senior Center Director Jim Stevens.

"But the Reverse 911 that the Emergency Operations Management Center is looking at will also do that locally," noted Stevens.

The Senior Director spoke with several emergency management people last year about starting a similar alert system in the county.

"It takes an enormous amount of cooperation between a lot of people.

There has to be special training for people to be on call including the police, fire and Red Cross. And, it takes a lot of coordination between many different areas of the government," said Stevens.

"The state has a real bad habit of putting something in place and not paying for it. I think having both of them would be fantastic but I don't know where the money would have to come from to pay for it," said Stevens.

The Silver Alert bill also was changed to include required training for law enforcement officers on dealing with endangered and missing adults. That training requirement was amended in a separate bill authored by state Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville.

She introduced it in response to the death of Jack Obenchain, a 91-year-old Pittsboro resident who became lost while driving in December 2007.

During Obenchain's ordeal, an Ohio state police officer made traffic stops and gave him directions near Dayton, Ohio. Obenchain, apparently disoriented, was later found dead in a creek near Muncie.

Senate Bill 307 now moves to the full Senate, and if it passes there, to the Indiana House.

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