IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
December 12 (legislative day, December 11), 2013
Mr. Manchin (for himself, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Klobuchar, Mrs. McCaskill, and Mr. Coons) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To encourage, enhance, and integrate Silver Alert plans throughout the United States and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
National Silver Alert Act of 2013
In this Act:
The term missing senior refers to any individual who—
is reported to, or identified by, a law enforcement agency as a missing person; and
meets the requirements to be designated as a missing senior, as determined by the State in which the individual is reported or identified as a missing person.
The term State means each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Silver Alert communications network
The Attorney General shall, subject to the availability of appropriations, establish a national Silver Alert communications network within the Department of Justice to provide assistance to regional and local search efforts for missing seniors through the initiation, facilitation, and promotion of local elements of the network (known as Silver Alert plans) in coordination with States, units of local government, law enforcement agencies, and other concerned entities with expertise in providing services to seniors.
Coordination with AMBER Alert Network
In establishing the Silver Alert Network under subsection (a), the Attorney General shall ensure that, when feasible, the Silver Alert Network is able to operate in coordination with the AMBER Alert communications network, established under subtitle A of title III of the PROTECT Act (42 U.S.C. 5791 et seq.), to maximize the efficiency of both networks.
Silver Alert Coordinator
National Coordinator within Department of Justice
The Attorney General shall designate an individual of the Department of Justice to act as the national coordinator of the Silver Alert communications network. The individual so designated shall be known as the Silver Alert Coordinator of the Department of Justice (referred to in this Act as the Coordinator).
Duties of the Coordinator
In acting as the national coordinator of the Silver Alert communications network, the Coordinator shall—
work with States to encourage the development of additional Silver Alert plans in the network;
establish voluntary guidelines for States to use in developing Silver Alert plans that will promote compatible and integrated Silver Alert plans throughout the United States, including—
a list of the resources necessary to establish a Silver Alert plan;
criteria for evaluating whether a situation warrants issuing a Silver Alert, taking into consideration the need for the use of such Alerts to be limited in scope because the effectiveness of the Silver Alert communications network may be affected by overuse, including criteria to determine—
whether the mental capacity of a senior who is missing, and the circumstances of his or her disappearance, warrant the issuance of a Silver Alert; and
whether the individual who reports that a senior is missing is an appropriate and credible source on which to base the issuance of a Silver Alert;
a description of the appropriate uses of the Silver Alert name to readily identify the nature of search efforts for missing seniors; and
recommendations on how to protect the privacy, dignity, independence, and autonomy of any missing senior who may be the subject of a Silver Alert;
develop proposed protocols for efforts to recover missing seniors and to reduce the number of seniors who are reported missing, including protocols for procedures that are needed from the time of initial notification of a law enforcement agency that the senior is missing through the time of the return of the senior to family, guardian, or domicile, as appropriate, including—
public safety communications protocol;
case management protocol;
command center operations;
reunification protocol; and
incident review, evaluation, debriefing, and public information procedures;
work with States to ensure appropriate regional coordination of various elements of the network;
establish an advisory group to assist States, units of local government, law enforcement agencies, and other entities involved in the Silver Alert communications network with initiating, facilitating, and promoting Silver Alert plans, which shall include—
to the maximum extent practicable, representation from the various geographic regions of the United States; and
members who are—
representatives of senior citizen advocacy groups, law enforcement agencies, and public safety communications;
broadcasters, first responders, dispatchers, and radio station personnel; and
representatives of any other individuals or organizations that the Coordinator determines are necessary to the success of the Silver Alert communications network; and
act as the nationwide point of contact for—
the development of the network; and
regional coordination of alerts for missing seniors through the network.
Coordination with other agencies
The Coordinator shall coordinate and consult with the Secretary of Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission, the Assistant Secretary for Aging of the Department of Health and Human Services, the head of the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program, and other appropriate offices of the Department of Justice in carrying out activities under this Act.
State and local coordination
The Coordinator shall consult with local broadcasters and State and local law enforcement agencies in establishing minimum standards under section 5 and in carrying out other activities under this Act, as appropriate.
Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Coordinator shall submit to Congress a report on the activities of the Coordinator and the effectiveness and status of the Silver Alert plans of each State that has established or is in the process of establishing such a plan. Each such report shall include—
a list of States that have established Silver Alert plans;
a list of States that are in the process of establishing Silver Alert plans;
for each State that has established such a plan, to the extent the data is available—
the number of Silver Alerts issued;
the number of individuals located successfully;
the average period of time between the issuance of a Silver Alert and the location of the individual for whom such Alert was issued;
the State agency or authority issuing Silver Alerts, and the process by which Silver Alerts are disseminated;
the cost of establishing and operating such a plan;
the criteria used by the State to determine whether to issue a Silver Alert; and
the extent to which missing individuals for whom Silver Alerts were issued crossed State lines;
actions States have taken to protect the privacy and dignity of the individuals for whom Silver Alerts are issued;
ways that States have facilitated and improved communication about missing individuals between families, caregivers, law enforcement officials, and other authorities; and
any other information the Coordinator determines to be appropriate.
Minimum standards for issuance and dissemination of alerts through Silver Alert communications network
Establishment of minimum standards
Subject to subsection (b) , the Coordinator shall establish minimum standards for—
the issuance of alerts through the Silver Alert communications network; and
the extent of the dissemination of alerts issued through the network.
The minimum standards established under subsection (a) of this section, and any other guidelines and programs established under section 4, shall be adoptable on a voluntary basis only.
Dissemination of information
The minimum standards shall, to the maximum extent practicable (as determined by the Coordinator in consultation with State and local law enforcement agencies), provide that appropriate information relating to the special needs of a missing senior (including health care needs) are disseminated to the appropriate law enforcement, public health, and other public officials.
The minimum standards shall, to the maximum extent practicable (as determined by the Coordinator in consultation with State and local law enforcement agencies), provide that the dissemination of an alert through the Silver Alert communications network be limited to the geographic areas which the missing senior could reasonably reach, considering the missing senior’s circumstances and physical and mental condition, the modes of transportation available to the missing senior, and the circumstances of the disappearance.
The minimum standards shall not include any specific age requirement for an individual to be classified as a missing senior for purposes of the Silver Alert communication network. Age requirements for determinations of whether an individual is a missing senior shall be determined by each State, and may vary from State to State.
Privacy and civil liberties protections
The minimum standards shall—
ensure that alerts issued through the Silver Alert communications network comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local privacy laws and regulations; and
include standards that specifically provide for the protection of the civil liberties and sensitive medical information of missing seniors.
State and local voluntary coordination
In carrying out the activities under subsection (a) , the Coordinator may not interfere with the current system of voluntary coordination between local broadcasters and State and local law enforcement agencies for purposes of the Silver Alert communications network.
Training and other resources
Training and educational programs
The Coordinator shall make available to States, units of local government, law enforcement agencies, and other concerned entities that are involved in initiating, facilitating, or promoting Silver Alert plans, including broadcasters, first responders, dispatchers, public safety communications personnel, and radio station personnel—
training and educational programs related to the Silver Alert communication network and the capabilities, limitations, and anticipated behaviors of missing seniors, which shall be updated regularly to encourage the use of new tools, technologies, and resources in Silver Alert plans; and
informational materials, including brochures, videos, posters, and web sites to support and supplement such training and educational programs.
The Coordinator shall coordinate—
with the Assistant Secretary for Aging of the Department of Health and Human Services in developing the training and educational programs and materials under subsection (a) ; and
with the head of the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program within the Department of Justice, to determine if any existing material with respect to training programs or educational materials developed or used as part of such Patient Alert Program are appropriate and may be used for the programs under subsection (a) .
Authorization of appropriations for the silver alert communications network
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Department of Justice $500,000 to carry out the Silver Alert communications network as authorized under this Act .