INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A new law going into effect on July 1 will include missing endangered children under a new category for Silver Alerts.
The new law will include adults currently eligible as part of the current Silver Alert program and add children and teens that have a mental illness, intellectual disability, or another physical or mental disability. Silver Alerts could be issued for any missing child who is incapable of returning to their residence without assistance.
Authorities said there is no change to the current Amber Alert system for children who are believed to be abducted.
Experts like Dr. Edward Parker with Bierman ABA said the addition of children with special needs to the current Silver Alert system is extremely beneficial to saving a child's life when seconds count.
The use of Silver Alerts by law enforcement is crucial to provide quick and accurate information on multiple media platforms when someone is missing and considered endangered.
"It's going to be your typical Silver Alert that you see now that will get pushed out statewide. As soon as we're notified, we start the process an within a new minutes, once we have all the information, we're about to push that alert out," said Indianapolis State Police Sgt. John Perrine.
The alerts are sent to the entire community. First responders said it's more often that kids are found first by members of their own community, rather than law enforcement.
"A lot of our people are found by the general public just being aware, so having the Silver Alert available to put that information immediately out there to a broader audience is even going to help find these folks much quicker before they get themselves into extremely dangerous situations," said Wayne Township Fire Department PIO Mike Pruitt.
Experts say the new law is a great start to finding kids who wander away from home. They're hoping it also encourages parents and caregivers to do even more in the case of a potential emergency.
"If they're lost on the street corner and someone comes and finds them, can they tell them their name? Can they tell hem their moms name? Can they tell them their address? Can they get home?" Dr. Parker said.
Law enforcement and first responders encourage families to sign up for Project Lifesaver to get the word out about a missing endangered child even sooner.
"Darting, elopement, particularly for kids with developmental disabilities, particularly for young kids is a serious issue," Dr. Parker said.
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