Every 40 seconds, a child goes missing. 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. According to a study by the Attorney General of Washington State and the U.S Department of Justice, 74 percent of murdered abducted children were slain in the first three hours after abduction.
Additionally, there are currently 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease, and by 2050, as many as 16 million will have the disease. According to health care reports, approximately six in 10 dementia victims and three out of five people with Alzheimer's disease will wander from their current location in an effort to return "home," which in some cases is no longer their residence. Half of these adults suffer serious injury or death if not found within 24 hours.
To help make sure these missing children and elderly adults are recovered as quickly as possible, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) again introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday to give law enforcement agencies additional tools to help rapidly resolve these cases. H.R. 3388, The Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program Act of 2013 (CEMAP), is identical to legislation that passed the House in the 112th Congress by voice vote (H.R. 4305). U.S. Rep. Theodore Deutch (D-FL) again joins Chabot as an original cosponsor of the bill.
"In many instances, it is critical that missing children and seniors are located within the first few hours of their disappearance," said Chabot. "Unfortunately, most law enforcement agencies lack the resources to knock on every door in the community in the event of such an unfortunate crisis. This important bipartisan legislation will help solve this problem by assisting the development and use of rapid telephone and cellular alert programs through which missing persons alerts can be sent minutes after a person is reported missing."
The Amber and Silver Alerts are successful programs, but there is a time lapse between when a victim is first reported missing and when an Amber or Silver Alert can be issued.
For example, to activate an Amber Alert, law enforcement officials must confirm that an abduction has taken place and that the child is at risk of serious injury or death. Additionally, they must obtain a description of the child, the captor and any vehicle in which they may be traveling. During the early stages of missing children cases, this information is often difficult to verify. In some cases, this initial time period is crucial to finding the child or senior before they suffer any harm.
Chabot's legislation will complement the Amber and Silver Alert programs by authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to issue grants to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for the development and use of rapid telephone and cellular alert programs. Using such programs, law enforcement officials can send targeted telephone and cellular alerts to residents and businesses in the area where a child or elderly adult was last seen during the time period between the filing of a missing persons report and the issuance of an Amber or Silver Alert. Based on current technology, as many as 1,000 calls can be made in a minute, thereby providing law enforcement a vital tool to help reach the greatest number of people in the early, critical moments of a search.
The legislation also allows the grants to be used to develop and deploy Blue Alerts, which help locate a suspect who caused serious harm or death to a police officer and is at large, as well as systems to combat human trafficking, a growing challenge for law enforcement.