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Codey signs bill to establish alert system for missing persons with dementia

codey081109_optActing Gov. Richard J. Codey Wednesday signed legislation that would make New Jersey one of 11 states to establish a statewide alert system for reporting information on a missing person believed to be suffering from dementia or other cognitive impairments.

"With the Amber Alert proving so effective in protecting some of our most vulnerable, our children, the Silver Alert is a smart next step in protecting another vulnerable segment of our population, the elderly and disabled," Codey said.

Codey signed the bill at Green Hill Nursing Home in West Orange, where he was joined by some of the bills sponsors, as well as representatives from the Alzheimer's Association and AARP. Codey (D-Essex), the state Senate president, is serving as acting governor while Gov. Jon Corzine vacations out the state.

Each year, more than 400 people with dementia and other cognitive disorders go missing in New Jersey. According to nationwide statistics published by the Alzheimer's Association, up to half of such cases nationally end in injury or death when the missing person is not found within 24 hours.

The measure, A2844/S1844, which was unanimously approved by both houses of the Legislature, calls for a "Silver Alert" system to be established, similar to the nationally recognized Amber Alert, in the event that a person is missing and believed to be suffering from dementia or another cognitive disorder.

Under the law's provisions, a Silver Alert would be issued when such a person appears to have gone missing and 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.

If a Silver Alert is issued for a missing person, consenting media outlets in the region in which the person went missing would be asked to disseminate a description of the individual, along with contact information for the relevant law enforcement agencies, and any other information that the lead law enforcement agency on the alert may deem appropriate.

"This law offers a quick and efficient way to alert the public and law enforcement when someone with dementia or another cognitive disorder goes missing," said Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson).

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Jersey joins Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia with "Silver Alert" systems.

Cunningham sponsored the legislation with Sen. John Girgenti (D-Passaic), Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Mercer), and Assembly members Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer), Sandi Love (D- Camden) Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), Caridad Rodriguez (D-Hudson), Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester), Elease Evans (D-Passaic) and Charlotte Vandervalk (R-Bergen).

The law will go into effect July 1.

– TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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