Weinberg: We Owe It To Families To Do Everything We Can To Help Find Their Missing Loved Ones

BOGOTA – Senator Loretta Weinberg today joined with Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Jim Viola, husband of missing person Patricia Viola, to discuss “Patricia’s Law”, recently introduced legislation aimed at helping law enforcement personnel locate and safely return missing persons to their families. The news conference was held at the Viola home in Bogota.

The measure is named for Patricia Viola, who disappeared from her kitchen in 2001.

“This new bill sets procedures and standards for gathering information on missing persons and requires law enforcement to make sure certain information is obtained,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “The bill also recognizes some of the new technologies such as DNA testing which can help find or identify missing persons. We received input from police personnel and from the Prosecutor’s office in fashioning these protocols, but the real input came from Mr. Viola. He used the horrendous event affecting his family to try to make it better for others who might face the same situation.”

“The purpose of this bill is to provide hope, not only for the Violas, but for any family with a missing loved one,” said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood and Teaneck. “This measure is designed to help law enforcement more easily locate missing persons and also to expedite information to families – we must keep them involved and informed.”

“Patricia has been missing for five and a half years, but finding her is just as important to me today as it was the day she disappeared,” said Jim Viola. “This legislation is about holding on to hope, and about providing hope to families of missing persons by outlining a better structure for handling cases. I am hoping that this news conference will help get the word out to New Jerseyans that this bill needs community support – from them and from their local legislators, to become a law. “

Senator Weinberg’s bill, S-2255, is designed to help law enforcement locate missing persons, to enhance the current system of notifying families of missing persons, and to work to improve the process for identifying human remains.

The proposed legislation reflects model missing persons legislation proposed by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, a federally funded resource center created to support research, legislation and program development for criminal justice.

The legislation is currently awaiting a vote by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson, D-Englewood and Teaneck, are introducing identical legislation in the Assembly.

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