|JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt today announced a new program designed to fill a void for those missing persons whose information surrounding their disappearances fails to meet the AMBER Alert criteria.
“Missouri is joining a growing number of states using the AMBER Alert Program to trace missing children while the trail is still fresh,” Blunt said. “The plan is ideal for law enforcement because an alert can now be used for runaways and parental child abduction cases.”
The mission of the Endangered Person Advisory Program is to develop and coordinate the efforts of law enforcement and the media in order to increase public participation in safely recovering endangered missing persons by increased communication and effective resources sharing.
The new criteria includes “unexplained” as a reason a person might be missing and opens the possibility for other factors that may put a person in danger. Original criteria permitted classifying an endangered person under "suspicious circumstances" only.
The advisory stands to include victims such as a 19-year-old kidnapping victim, a 75-year-old Alzheimer's patient who wandered off, a 14-year-old missing girl with suspicious computer correspondence or an 11-year-old Boy Scout lost in a mountain wilderness area. Currently none of these victims is covered under the standards for issuing an AMBER Alert.
The Endangered Person Advisory Program is initiated solely by Missouri law enforcement agencies using the following criteria: Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary, or suspicious circumstances? Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions, in the company of a potential dangerous person or some other factor that might put the person in peril? Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the person?
The Missouri Department of Public Safety, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, the Missouri Sheriffs Association, and the Missouri Broadcasters Association are involved in this cooperative effort.