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Legislative Update: The Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Throughout the United States, an average of 2,000 children under the age of 18 are reported missing each day and 800,000 children are reported missing each year. Likewise, with our nation's growing elderly population, and the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, the number of our seniors who are reported missing each year continues to rise. According to health care reports, approximately 6 in 10 dementia victims and 3 out 5 people with Alzheimer's disease will wander from their current location often in an effort to return "home," which in some cases is no longer their place of residence.

The need to locate missing children, seniors, and disabled individuals in the first hours of their disappearance is vital. According to a study by the Attorney General of Washington State and the U.S. Department of Justice, among cases involving children abducted and murdered, 74 percent were slain in the first 3 hours. Additionally, half of elderly adults who wander from their residence suffer serious injury or death if not found within 24 hours. And unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies just don't have the resources and manpower to conduct searches that can cost as much as $400,000 for a twelve hour search.

That's why I have helped introduce H.R. 4305, the Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program Act of 2012 (CEMAP). This legislation will assist federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the rapid recovery of missing children, elderly persons, and disabled individuals.

The Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program accomplishes this by allowing the United States Attorney General to make a competitive grant/cooperative agreement with an eligible non-profit organization to assist Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the rapid recovery of missing individuals through the use of rapid alert telephone and cellular calls. These targeted telephone and cellular alerts to residents and businesses in the area where the person was last seen also provide satellite mapping technology to assist law enforcement.

CEMAP will complement and bridge the gaps between other programs that aide in the recovery of missing individuals like the Amber and Silver Alert programs. The Amber and Silver Alert programs are beneficial programs, but they do not address all missing person cases. In some cases, there is a crucial lapse of time between when a child, elderly adult or disabled individual is first reported missing and when an Amber or Silver Alert can be issued. For instance, in missing children cases, if no abduction is suspected, the Amber Alert System cannot be activated.

In addition to aiding in the recovery of missing children, seniors, and the disabled, CEMAP will also support agencies issuing Blue Alerts which are used to help locate a suspect who has caused serious harm or death to a police officer and is at large as well as assist law enforcement agencies in combating the growing challenge of human trafficking.

As the Congressman for Arkansas's Fourth Congressional District, I have always fought for the safety and well-being of our children, seniors, and the disabled. The Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program Act is commonsense legislation that will allow the law enforcement community to quickly broadcast potentially life-saving information. The utilization of this technology will give each missing individual a better chance of being recovered, and I'm proud to help introduce this legislation in Congress.


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