Bill would create crucial alert system

3 years ago

To the editor:

On Feb. 8, 2021, a hearing was held before the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety discussing LD 28: An Act To Create an Alert System To Notify the Public When a Person with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability Is Missing.

Disabilities are a natural part of the human experience and no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in society. With that being said, currently when any person is considered missing, a communication system is notified providing this information to law enforcement agencies statewide. But how do we get this information out to the public in a fast and safe way regarding children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities who are at greater risk of fatality while missing? 

Having an alert system similar to the Silver Alerts will help a serious problem in our community regarding the possibilities of these young individuals going missing when simply walking away from their home or people they are with. This does not include the child being abducted, as Amber Alerts are implemented for such occasions, but is more geared to the child wandering off, unable to find their way home, unable to communicate who they are or who their family is, and the possibility of not understanding how to keep themselves safe while alone in public. 

Wandering is the leading cause of missing children with disabilities, with the outcome of 55 percent ending in fatality, mostly by drowning or [being] struck by vehicles. Not only will this bill help children with disabilities get home safely, but it will also allow community members and law enforcement to understand how to properly communicate with the individual due to possible interferences such as the child being nonverbal. This bill will overall instantly excite people to immediately take action in communities to assist in the search for and safe recovery of a missing child with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Alexandra Michaud