Several members of the Michigan State Senate — Democrats and one powerful Republican — have offered a proposal to create a new notification system similar to an “Amber Alert” for missing senior citizens and vulnerable adults. Such a measure deserves passage since would logically help expedite the time it takes to find such missing individuals, thereby increasing the chances that they will be found alive and well.
Senate Bill (SB) 260, which was introduced by state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) and has the support of state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Antwerp Township), the upper chamber’s president pro tempore, would establish the Mozelle Missing Senior or Vulnerable Adult Alert Act, named after a southwest Detroit resident who died after wandering from her home.
Under SB 260, a missing senior or vulnerable adult would have to meet one of the two following criteria:
• Be at least 60-years-old and believed to be missing by a person familiar with that particular individual unable to return home without assistance; or
• Be at least 18-years-old and “because of age, developmental disability, mental illness or physical disability (require) supervision or personal care” and lack “the personal and social skills required to live independently.”
The person familiar with the individual reporting the person missing would have to be a guardian, custodian or caretaker.
Information gathered by law enforcement from that individual would have to be forwarded immediately to all law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in the area where the missing person resides and was last seen, as well as any law enforcement agencies that the person reporting the missing individual requests and any law enforcement agencies that request the report. One or more TV or radio broadcast stations and newspapers in the area would have to be notified, as well.
Given the fact that each passing moment that a missing senior or vulnerable adult is missing, it makes sense to have this in place. We see this as a measure that can only help in locating those kinds of missing persons, particularly given that the Amber Alert system has had success since it began at the federal level in 1996 and is credited with saving the lives of nearly 500 children since then.
Having a similar system in place for another group of people — missing seniors and vulnerable adults — warrants support from the state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder. We hope the bipartisan nature of the proposal ensures that.