Less Than a Year Old, Public Alert System Has Saved Lives
TRENTON – Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, a sponsor of legislation which was signed into law late last year to create a Silver Alert program to notify New Jerseyans whenever a person with Alzheimer’s or some other cognitive disorder goes missing, said she was pleased with the program’s results after less than a year of implementation, noting that Silver Alerts have resulted in successfully finding the person in question each time they were issued.
“In less than a year, New Jersey’s Silver Alert system has proven to be an invaluable tool to quickly locate missing persons who may be suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or some other cognitive impairment,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “It’s absolutely crucial that we mobilize New Jersey’s good Samaritans within hours of a Silver Alert in order to prevent someone from being a danger to themselves or to others. Through this program, we’re helping to reunite families with their lost loved ones and preventing injury or even death for confused and frightened New Jersey seniors.”
The bill, which was signed into law in December, 2009, established a voluntary, cooperative system between State and local law enforcement agencies and the media, similar to the already-existing Amber Alert program for missing children. The bill provides for the issuance of a “Silver Alert” if a person is missing and is believed to be suffering from dementia or another cognitive disorder; a missing person’s report has been filed; the missing person is believed to be in danger; there is reason to believe the alert will help locate the person, and there is information available that could help find them quickly and safely.
Since July, when the Silver Alert program issued its first alert, the program has successfully located missing loved ones every time it’s been used.
“In New Jersey, as many as 400 seniors a year suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s go missing, and according to national Alzheimer’s statistics, up to half the cases end in tragedy unless the person is found within the first 24 hours,” said Senator Cunningham. “The Silver Alert system enlists the eyes and ears of New Jersey’s nearly 9 million people to quickly locate lost loved ones and bring them to safety. I’m proud to have sponsored this initiative because I know it’s making a difference in the lives of our seniors and their families who want to make sure they stay safe.”