Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ohio Amber Alerts to include people with mental disabilities, elderly people

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Ohio Emergency Management Agency there is expanding the state's Amber Alert system to include elderly people and people with mental disabilities.

Ohio began its Amber Alert program in 2003; the program is used to quickly tell the public of missing children and give descriptions of the children and their captors when available.

The Amber Alert program for elderly people or mentally disabled people will use the same methods to let the public know about missing adults: radio broadcasts, scrolling messages on TV, notices on overhead road signs and instant communication among law-enforcement agencies.

“We certainly hope that with the public-information push that will result from these alerts, more individuals can be found and safely returned to their families,” said Tamara McBride, spokeswoman for the emergency-management agency.

The agency says 41 people older than 65 in Ohio have been reported missing and have not been found.

The Amber Alert program for elderly and mentally disabled adults is a result of legislation and doesn't carry additional costs, McBride said.

"The alert will be activated after local authorities confirm that the individual is missing, is 65 or older or has a mental impairment, and might be in serious danger of bodily harm or death, and that there's enough descriptive information about the person and circumstances surrounding the disappearance to help locate the person," The Dispatch says.