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Alert Network Created to Help Find Missing Adults with Disabilities

Disability News and Information

Endangered Missing Persons Alert Network

If an adult with an intellectual disability or pervasive developmental disability disappears, putting the person’s health and safety at risk, where do you go for help? To assist in this situation, Texas created the statewide Endangered Missing Persons Alert Network last year. This network is modeled after the AMBER Alert system, which issues urgent bulletins in child-abduction cases in order to quickly get the public’s help in searching for missing individuals.

Missing Person Highway SignTo use this system, you have to contact local law enforcement and meet specific criteria. Then law enforcement must make a request to the Texas Department of Public Safety to activate the alert network. Alerts can be released on a local, regional or statewide basis, depending on the situation. Each alert is limited to a 24-hour period unless an extension is approved.

Unfortunately, everything does not always go smoothly, as one Pflugerville family learned recently when their foster son with limited communication skills left his day habilitation site. They contacted the police but were told that their son was too old to activate the Amber Alert system because he was over 17. The family continued to contact the police and also got their son’s photo aired on the TV news. Eventually, more than 10 hours after he disappeared and once his photo was distributed, the police did find him.

The police did not consider the endangered persons alert network, the mother said, and she is wondering why it was not used. She encourages parents to learn how the network operates so they can work with local law enforcement to activate the system if needed.

Basic Criteria for Activating the Endangered Missing Persons Alert Network

  • Law enforcement needs a written diagnosis from a physician or psychologist indicating the missing person has an intellectual disability or a pervasive developmental disorder.
  • An investigation has ruled out that there is a reasonable explanation for the individual’s disappearance and determined that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the person’s health and safety.
  • Law enforcement should be contacted as soon as possible. Alert requests must be made within 72 hours of the person’s disappearance.
  • There must be enough information available for the public to assist in locating the missing person.

What Are Some Ways You Can Be Prepared?

  • Keep updated photos and descriptions of family members, such as height and weight.
  • Be sure individuals know their home address and phone number.
  • Have individuals who cannot communicate their name and home address carry identification, wear an ID or medical bracelet, or carry a phone with a GPS locator.

Endangered Missing Persons Alert Information

TCDD Wants to Hear from You

If you have any experience with the Endangered Missing Persons Alert Network, TCDD staff would like to hear from you. Please contact TCDD at tcdd@tcdd.state.tx.us or (512) 437-5432.

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