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New legislation enhances the localization of missing person alerts

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis signed laws that enhanced Florida’s Purple Alert program to focus more on local efforts. Purple Alerts are issued to tell the general public when law enforcement is trying to find missing adults with specific mental or cognitive disabilities not related to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, brain injuries, or substance abuse. The necessity to search out these individuals quickly necessitates a rapid, widespread call for assistance.

When a Purple Alert is issued, email and text alerts are sent out, notices are shared with news outlets, and messages are displayed on dynamic signs along state highways in addition to on lottery terminals in various retail locations across Florida. Nevertheless, this approach will now change as a result of recent developments. Here’s what’s different.

HB 937 now places a greater emphasis on local Purple Alerts. Previously, these alerts were sent out statewide, with priority given to the world where the person went missing. Under this latest laws, there will likely be two tiers of activation: local and state.

As per HB 937, sponsored by Reps. Joe Casello and Tom Keen within the House, alongside SB 640 filed by Sen. Lori Berman, local law enforcement agencies must establish their very own protocols for handling Purple Alerts for missing individuals on foot or in unidentifiable vehicles. The local authorities will then share information concerning the missing individual with local media outlets, all on-duty law enforcement personnel, and other agencies inside the county.

If the missing person’s vehicle details are known, the local agency may then request a statewide Purple Alert, triggering messages on highway signs, lottery terminals, and dispersing email and text alerts to the general public subscribers. Moreover, the bill permits local or state law enforcement to involve the FDLE’s Missing Endangered Individuals Information Clearinghouse in such cases.

HB 937 is about to take effect on July 1, 2024. Florida’s Purple Alert Plan, integrated into the FDLE’s emergency alert system in 2022, goals to swiftly locate missing adults with specific mental or cognitive disabilities. To qualify for a Purple Alert, the missing person must meet certain criteria outlined in the rules. In the event you encounter a Purple Alert, be aware of the person’s description and any relevant details to report back to the suitable authorities promptly.

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