TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg which would help law enforcement personnel locate and safely return missing persons to their families received unanimous final legislative approval today from the full Assembly.
The legislation is named for Patricia Viola, a Bogota woman who disappeared from her kitchen in 2001 and has never returned. Patricia relies on medication to control her epilepsy, which makes her case of higher risk. Patricia’s husband Jim has led the fight for this legislation, said Senator Weinberg.
“When a loved one goes missing, those who love and care for them immediately go into panic mode, and their worries do not subside until that missing person is found,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “By establishing real guidelines for law enforcement to follow when searching for missing people, this legislation gives hope to their families that police are doing everything in their power to help safely locate and return their missing loved ones.”
Under Senator Weinberg’s bill, S2255, missing persons’ cases are deemed “high risk,” because of a number of factors including the health and the age of the missing person.
The bill 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, said Senator Weinberg.
This measure passed the full Senate on June 21, 2007, and it now heads to Governor Corzine’s desk where his signature would make it state law.