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By Jason Butkowski | January 26th, 2009 - 7:06pm
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CUNNINGHAM-GIRGENTI ‘SILVER ALERT’ BILL ADVANCESTRENTON – A bill that would establish a statewide system for quickly sending out to the public information on a missing person believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment was approved 5-0 today by the Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.Sponsored by Senator John Girgenti, D-Passaic, the chairman of the committee, and Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, the committee substitute for their bill (S-1844) would be a voluntary, cooperative effort between state and local law enforcement agencies and the media, similar to the existing Amber Alert program for missing children.The bill provides for the issuance of a Silver Alert if a person is missing and is believed to be suffering from dementia or another cognitive disorder; a missing person’s report has been filed; the missing person is believed to be in danger; there is reason to believe the alert will help locate the person, and there is information available that could help find them.“Every year more than 400 persons with dementia and other cognitive disorders go missing in New Jersey,” Senator Girgenti said. “According to nationwide statistics published by the Alzheimer’s Association, up to half of such cases end in injury or death when the missing person is not found within 24 hours.”The committee substitute approved today expands the issuance of Silver Alerts to people under the age of 65, but seeks to limit the issuance of alerts in several ways. It will only apply to missing persons with dementia or another cognitive impairment and only in cases involving the risk of serious injury or death. It also calls for the media to take a targeted approach in disseminating the information rather than requiring participating media to broadcast alerts as often as possible for the first three hours of the alert.“Our bill offers a quick way to alert the public and law enforcement when someone with dementia or another cognitive disorder goes missing,” Cunningham said. “It is similar to the Amber Alert system in place now for missing children.”The committee substitute would require the N.J. Department of Transportation, the N.J. Highway Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority to inform the public through highway message sign alerts only if the missing person is driving a vehicle at the time they disappear and accurate information about the vehicle is available.“This is another provision added to the bill to make sure we achieve our goal of quickly finding missing persons while making sure we don’t overtax our law enforcement resources or the attention of the public,” Girgenti said.Cunningham noted the changes incorporated in the committee substitute were suggested by the Attorney General’s Office, which supports the bill, along with the Alzheimer’s Association and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.“Participation of media outlets is voluntary, and crucial to the success of this type of alert program,” Cunningham said. “An unduly large volume of alerts might also diminish the public’s interest and the effectiveness of the system.”The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 30th

  With looming deadline on bail reform, Christie calls Legislature into special session TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie is calling the legislature into special session Thursday to address recent bail reform legislation before a looming deadline next week, according to a letter from the governor’s office today. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)...

Op-Ed

The health of New Jersey's women is not Chris Christie's priority

By Linda Stender At his most recent town hall, Gov. Chris Christie accused his predecessors of "monkeying with the math" when it comes to their handling of our state's economy. But as the old saying goes, when the governor points a finger, he... Read More >

Contributors

(7-30-14) Who Is Best Equipped to Decide the Fate of the Common Core? - The latest Christie controversy surrounds his Executive Order to revamp the state’s academic... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »
The Perry-Paul Debate is Healthy for the GOP – and for America  The foreign policy debate in the media between prospective GOP Presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry and... more »
(Washington DC)-- Two recent votes on Capitol Hill suggest an overdue and radical departure from our nation's Draconian and costly War on Drugs.  It's a long-overdue discussion (and not just... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record

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