Wisconsin alert system to start for missing adults

By: Sarah Moon, AP Email
By: Sarah Moon, AP Email

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- When someone is missing, seconds count.

On Friday, Wisconsin will start its Silver Alert program.

It will run similar to the nationwide Amber Alert system.

Onalaska Police Chief Jeff Trotnic said he thinks it's a good program for the state to have.

“The quicker we can find them, the quicker we can get them back into the safety of their residences where they come from,” said Trotnic.

A Silver Alert will be used when a missing person is 60 or older and is believed to have Alzheimer's, dementia or another permanent cognitive impairment that's a risk to his or her health and safety.

There must also be reason to believe the person is missing because of their condition and the Silver Alert request needs to be made within 72 hours of a person's disappearance.

Plus, there needs to be adequate information to alert the public that could help find the missing person.

La Crosse County emergency services administrator Jay Loeffler said Silver Alerts will allow the public to help law enforcement.

“There's a lot of people out there with cell phones right now, and that information can be very useful, so the more eyes and ears we have out there, the better it's going to be,” said Loeffler.

The Silver Alerts may be broadcast in a variety of ways including TV, radio and DOT highway digital message signs.

Kim Kinner who's the executive director of the Alzheimer's Association Greater Wisconsin Chapter said about 60% of people with the disease will wander off.

“This is another tool sort of in the toolbox for families and caregivers out there to just ensure the safety of their loved one if they have Alzheimer's or another dementia,” said Kinner.

If someone is missing and at risk, but doesn't meet the criteria for a Silver Alert, the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network can send out a Missing/Endangered alert.

About 30 other states have similar systems to the Silver Alert.

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A new Wisconsin system will send alerts when an at-risk adult has gone missing.

The Silver Alert program starts Friday and will operate similar to the nationwide Amber Alert system for missing children. It will use the state's pre-existing Crime Alert Network to quickly get out information about missing adults who may be in danger. It's intended to help find people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia in particular.

Law enforcement agencies will send the information to broadcasters and others to get the word out about the missing senior.

The program's coordinator with the network tells WLUK-TV about 30 other states have similar systems in place.

The bill passed the Legislature with unanimous support. Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law in April.


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