Brewer gives nod to new 'Silver Alert' system for elderly

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill creating a new alert system for seniors who disappear unexpectedly.

Friday's signing of Senate Bill 1097 creates a "Silver Alert" system modeled after Amber Alerts, which notify the public when a child has gone missing. The bill requires the state Department of Public Safety to coordinate emergency alerts for seniors who have gone missing and who are thought to be in danger. Local law enforcement must conduct an exhaustive search before an alert goes public.

There is already a system in place allowing law enforcement agencies to notify the public in cases where a person over age 65 disappears due to health problems through the news media. The new law authorizes DPS to use its emergency alert system to disseminate the information.

Arizona joins 32 states that have Silver Alert or similar programs.

The National Silver Alert Act of 2013 is pending in Congress. Sen. Joe Manchin III, the junior senator from West Virginia, introduced the bill in December.

The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Elder Justice Coalition, National Silver Haired Congress, the National Association of Police Organizations and the National Sheriffs’ Association have have endorsed the National Silver Alert Act.