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Friday, April 12, 2024

Purple Alert

The Politics of Autism discusses the problems of wandering and day-to-day safety.

In Alaska and other states, "silver alerts" notify the public and first responders when people with developmental disabilities go missing.  (Silver alerts were originally for the elderly.) Florida has purple alerts, and Maryland soon will.

Jospeh Olmo at WRC-TV Washington: 
A bill passed in the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday aims to help families when a loved one with disabilities goes missing.

The Purple Alert bill is just a signature away from becoming law in the state. Under the bill, like for an Amber Alert or Silver Alert, authorities could broadcast widespread messages when people with some disabilities or cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or Down syndrome, go missing.

The bill comes after Rashawn Williams, a Maryland man who has Down syndrome, was missing for nearly a week last year. He was finally found in a back room of a Metro station.

In October of last year, his father, Jimmy Hall, lived through an experience no parent wants to imagine; his son was gone for days.

“He was in complete darkness. No food, no water, no facilities. Poor air quality,” Hall said. “He was in solitary confinement for nearly a week,”

Hall dedicated his time to make sure a new tool is available for families who, one day, could find themselves in the same situation.

In testimony, Delegate Michele Guyton -- the prime sponsor -- explained the need for the bill:

 For a Silver Alert, the individual must be at least 60 years of age, have a cognitive impairment, be in danger, and be traveling in a vehicle. This leaves a dangerous gap for Marylanders who don’t fit into those categories. Initiating a Purple Alert system when children and adults with cognitive disabilities go missing in Maryland would help close that gap. Many other states have done so since efforts to pass this initiative at the federal level have stalled. Hopefully we will have a national Purple Alert System soon, but until then Maryland should protect our most vulnerable citizens.