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A Study on the Operational Background and Problems of the Alarm System for Missing Adults in the United States

  • Legal Theory & Practice Review
  • Abbr : LTPR
  • 2023, 11(2), pp.409-452
  • Publisher : The Korea Society for Legal Theory and Practice Inc.
  • Research Area : Social Science > Law
  • Received : May 5, 2023
  • Accepted : May 29, 2022
  • Published : May 31, 2023

Lee Keon Su 1

1백석대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

A patchwork of alert systems to rescue vulnerable missing adults is developing nationwide. These systems, administered at the state and local level, are intended to alert law enforcement and the public that adults with cognitive or other disabilities may be missing and may need help. Warnings are activated on behalf of targeted groups of individuals who are at high risk of disappearance and unable to go home or to a safe place, such as individuals with cognitive or psychiatric disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia), developmental disabilities or suicidal tendencies. Recent media attention to cases of vulnerable missing adults has led policymakers to consider whether the federal government should expand its role in helping these individuals. Currently, the federal Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert program is funding a service that provides bracelets to participants with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia to indicate that they have a memory impairment, including wandering or lost people. It includes a toll-free 24-hour emergency response number that people can call if they are found. Some members of Congress have expressed interest in assisting states to create and expand alert systems for missing adults. In the opening weeks of the 111th Congress, the House passed legislation (H.R. 632) establishing a subsidy program to encourage states to develop, expand and adapt these alarm systems. Shortly thereafter a companion bill (S. 557) was introduced in the Senate. 제안된 프로그램은 AMBER(America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) It is similar to a federal grant program that funds training and technical assistance for alert systems. States have developed an amber alert system to help recover children who are believed to have been kidnapped. In response to increased congressional interest in missing adult alert systems, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has identified 11 states known to have developed such systems: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia). CRS conducted a review of any state law, regulation or executive order that created the system and contacted officials in each state to learn more about how the system was administered. CRS found that most of the systems were only recently built, after 2006. This study is intended to provide an overview of the alert system in this one state, including (1) the statutory authority to establish the system; (2) the target population for warning; (3) the target population for the alerts; (4) management responsibility for alerts, including coordination with AMBER alerts; (5) training of law enforcement and other agencies on alerts; (6) the process of activating an alert; (7) coordination of alerts with other countries; (8) system cost; (9) use of the system; (10) Provides an introduction to information, etc., on the results of individuals for whom an alert has been activated. The final section of the study provides a discussion of issues Congress should consider regarding the federal role (if any) in developing state alert programs for missing adults. For example, it noted that some states with alert systems may struggle to coordinate with other states that do not have similar systems. Countries may also have difficulty coordinating with countries with alert systems that have different criteria that must be met before an alert can be activated. The federal government can help establish protocols to help coordinate interstate alerts and establish formal contracts or protocols for the use of interstate alerts.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.