Finding Missing Seniors Faster

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

The State House will soon decided whether to endorse a bill that would create a "Silver Alert" system for missing seniors.

The senate already passed the bill unanimously.

"Central Texas has a high population of Senior Citizens, and I think that's why I think they're pushing the bill," said Brazos County 9-1-1 Director Betsy Godwin.

Nine hundred senior citizens are reported missing statewide every year. The proposed bill is looking to expand the current Amber Alert system to send out alerts for missing seniors.

"I think it's a great tool. Anytime, we get the means to put the message out to a wider audience I think it's going to benefit both the people we're looking for, and the families missing them," said Bryan Assistant Police Chief Peter Scheets. "As well as the department in locating them."

The proposed Silver Alert system would utilize law enforcement agencies, the Department of Public Safety, and the media to get the message out about missing seniors.

In the past a local group of police chiefs, fire chiefs, and the media worked together to look over all policies and the different types of alerts that go out. However, that committee is no longer in place, but officials are hoping to put together a similar group.

"We'll get the committee back together, we'll talk about how the process is going to go, do we need to change anything, is there different technologies we can use to improve it, pretty much an overall review," said Godwin.

That group will look at the types of alerts that need to be disseminated.

Currently the Bryan Police Department operates under a 3-tier response system for missing persons.
Level 1: Officers respond to the scene and do a low-level search of the immediate area.
Level 2: More people are brought in, and a more organized search of the area is done, if that's not successful criminal investigators are brought in.
Level 3: Foul play is suspected, and at that time an Amber Alert or other notifications can be sent out.

"I think the only policy change that we'll see as a department is that we're going to have to include notification procedures, for the Silver Alert, similar to the notification procedures for the Amber Alert," said Scheets.

The bill if passed, is not expected to affect search procedures or levels of response.

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