How Utah’s Silver Alert system works

Local News

UTAH (ABC4) – An 80-year-old woman walked away from Crestwood Care Center in Ogden around 4 p.m. Sunday evening. Within a few hours, law enforcement issued a Silver Alert. This was the second Silver Alert in Utah in less than a week. The Utah Department of Public Safety breaks down how the program works.

“This is the blessing of technology that allows us to reach the rest of the public,” says DPS Public Affairs Director Joe Dougherty. He, of course, is talking about the state’s Silver Alert program.

The program is fairly new. House Bill 215 Silver Alert Program was signed into law on March 21, 2019.

To activate a Silver Alert, the police officer responding to a missing-person call must decide if the missing person qualifies as an “endangered adult.” Dougherty explains that under the law, this is “a person who is 60 years or older, or a person under 60 who has some form of dementia.” Dougherty adds, “A person who doesn’t have the capability to take care of themselves.”

Dougherty says if the responding officer decides the person meets that description, “the law says they shall request the alert go out.”

To request the alert, the officer reports to dispatch, which will then enter the missing person’s information into the Silver Alert system. “It’s meant to be a very automated, a very simple system,” Dougherty states. “The state government is not going to be in the way of an alert getting out. In fact, we want to promote those alerts and make sure they can get as far and wide as possible.”

Within minutes of activation, the Silver Alert sends a message to news media outlets, nearby law enforcement agencies, and displays the missing person’s information on UDOT road signs in the areas close to where the person was last seen.

So far this year, there have been 14 Silver Alerts in Utah. Dougherty says if one person is saved thanks to the Silver Alert program, it’s worth its weight in gold.

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