Oregon Lawmakers Send 'Silver Alert' Bill To Governor

By Chris Lehman

Oregonians could soon notice more alerts about people with Alzheimer's or dementia who have gone missing. Oregon lawmakers Friday sent a measure to the governor that would require law enforcement agencies to create plans to alert the public using any technology of the agency's choice. More than two dozen states use a similar strategy, which is often called the Silver Alert program. 

The Oregon measure also urges police agencies to train their officers to assist people with dementia or a developmental disability. Jon Bartholomew of the Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer's Association says that may ultimately save more lives than the Silver Alert itself.

Jon Bartholomew: "Making sure that officers have training on how to communicate with people with Alzheimer's disease, that's going to be much more effective than just saying, 'Oh, you need to flip a switch on an alert.'"

Bartholomew says Silver Alerts probably won't be broadcast widely since in the vast majority of cases, the missing person is no more than a mile or two from home.

Washington state has a program to advise the public of endangered missing persons. But lawmakers in Olympia this year rejected a proposal to change the name of the program to Silver Alert. Opponents of doing that said it would create confusion with the Amber Alert program for kidnapped children.

Oregon SB 1577: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2014R1/Measures/Overview/SB1577

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