Florida’s new Purple Alert system will roll out in July

Missing Person Flyer – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by StockMediaSeller

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will begin using a new alert system in July designed to help authorities locate any missing adults with developmental or mental disabilities.

A year since taking effect, the new system will launch on July 1.

Similar to other programs, the Purple Alert will go out to the public via text message. The alert will also notify gas stations and supermarkets and will be published on highway message boards.

Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis authorized the new alert system, which applies to those missing with an emotional disability or brain injury. Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman and Rep. Joseph Cassello were the ones who sponsored the proposal. 

As previously reported, under 2021’s SB 184, a Purple Alert can be issued under the new law when an adult goes missing who is at least 18 years old and has:

  • A mental or cognitive disability that does not include Alzheimer’s or Dementia
  • An intellectual or developmental disability
  • A brain injury
  • Another mental, physical, or emotional disability not related to substance abuse

Purple Alerts may also be issued for adults who meet several of the above criteria and when local law enforcement determines that their disappearance implies a credible threat of immediate danger or significant physical injury to themselves.

Wandering poses a major threat to the well-being of someone with a mental disability according to a bill analysis. The death rate of someone who is mentally disabled and is missing for more than 72 hours is as high as 88 percent. 

Florida currently uses various alert systems to notify the public of endangered or missing people.

SILVER alerts warn of a missing elderly person with mental deterioration while AMBER alerts are used in the event of child abduction. BLUE alerts are utilized when someone seriously injures or kills a law enforcement officer and flees.

In either situation, the alerts are designed to help the public and law enforcement locate those who are missing or endangered.

“Purple Alerts engage the public in the search for the missing person and provide a standardized and coordinated community response,” explains the FDLE website. 

AMBER alerts nationwide have led to the recovery of over 1,100 children, according to the Justice Department. In 2020, Florida ranked second in the nation with the most AMBER alerts (18), behind 42 in Texas.

According to FDLE, law enforcement has been able to recover more than 300 missing persons in Florida since 2008 using SILVER alerts.

Those who live in Florida can register online to receive emergency alerts.

A Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse case may also be opened with FDLE.

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