Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Rep. Theodore Deutch (D-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday that would assist law enforcement agencies in the rapid recovery of missing children as well as elderly adults.
"The current Amber Alert system has proven successful in locating missing children, but there are critical gaps that must be filled," Rep. Chabot said. "This bill will bridge those gaps and help recover missing children."
The Amber Alert program requires law enforcement to confirm that an abduction has taken place; the child is at risk of serious injury or death; have descriptive information of the child, captor and vehicle, before an alert can be activated. Often these details cannot be confirmed in the early stages of a case, and therefore critical minutes or even hours are lost.
This bill assists the Attorney General to make a competitive grant agreement with an eligible nonprofit organization to assist law enforcement agencies in the rapid recovery of missing children through the use of rapid alert telephone calls in a localized region.
"When a child goes missing, immediate action is critical to ensure the child's recovery," Rep. Chabot said. "This bill will create partnerships between law enforcement and community organizations to speed that process."
A child goes missing almost every 40 seconds; 800,000 children reported missing in the United States each year. It's the first hours of a disappearance that is the most 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.
The manpower and resources required to conduct a twelve hour search can reach $400,000. Setting up this grant program would cut down on recovery time and better assist local law enforcement operating with lean budgets in the current economy.
"Most local police departments are small, with 81 percent employing fewer than 25 full time sworn officers, and some relying on part time officers. The Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program -- is needed throughout the country. CEMAP gives law enforcement a tool that works for everyone " According to Sherry Friedlander, Founder of A Child Is Missing Alert Program. "This is an effective tool for a public/private partnership."
"We have partnered with A Child is Missing Alert Program for about15 years," said Colonel Ray Hoffbauer of the Hamilton County Sheriff's office. "It's really a force multiplier for us and has become part of our missing persons procedure. We're very supportive of this program."