(1) Public alerts can be one of the most effective tools in locating missing cognitively impaired persons;
(2) Law-enforcement officers and other professionals specializing in the field of missing persons agree that the most critical moments in the search for a missing cognitively impaired person are the first few hours immediately following the discovery that the individual is missing, asserting that if he or she is not found within twenty -four hours, it is unlikely that he or she will be found alive or without serious injury. The rapid dissemination of information, including a description of the missing cognitively impaired person, details of how he or she became missing, and of any vehicle involved, to the citizens of the affected community and region is, therefore, critical;
(3) Alerted to the situation, the citizenry become an extensive network of eyes and ears serving to assist law enforcement in quickly locating and safely recovering the missing cognitively impaired person;
(4) The most effective method of immediately notifying the public of a missing cognitively impaired person is through the broadcast media; and
(5) All forms of developing technologies are required to assist law enforcement in rapidly responding to these alerts and are an additional tool for assuring the well being and safety of our cognitively impaired citizenry. Thus, the use of traffic video recording and monitoring devices for the purpose of surveillance of a suspect vehicle adds yet another set of eyes to assist law enforcement and aid in the safe recovery of the cognitively impaired person.
(b) The Legislature declares that given the successes other states and regions have experienced in using broadcast media alerts to quickly locate and safely recover missing cognitively impaired persons, and, with the recent development of highway video recording and monitoring systems, it is altogether fitting and proper, and within the public interest, to establish these programs for West Virginia.
(b) For the purposes of this article, the term "cognitively impaired" means a person having a deficiency in his or her short-term or long-term memory, orientation as to person, place, and time, deductive or abstract reasoning, or judgment as it relates to safety: Provided, That the cognitive impairment is not caused by the use of alcohol or drugs not legally prescribed by a physician.
(c) The secretary shall notify the broadcast media serving the State of West Virginia of the establishment of "Silver Alert" program and invite their voluntary participation.
(d) The secretary shall submit a plan to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance no later than December 1, 2009. The plan shall include "Silver Alert" activation protocols, evaluation of first responder training requirements and needs as related to cognitively impaired persons, coordination and utilization of established programs and analysis of any costs. The secretary shall also make recommendations for any additional legislation or actions necessary to further facilitate the implementation of the "Silver Alert" program.
(1) A person is believed to be cognitively impaired;
(2) The person is believed to be missing, regardless of circumstance;
(3) A person who has knowledge that the cognitively impaired person is missing has submitted a missing person's report to the State Police or other appropriate law-enforcement agency;
(4) The missing person may be in danger of death or serious bodily injury;
(5) The missing person is domiciled or believed to be located in the State of West Virginia;
(6) The missing person is, or is believed to be, at a location that cannot be determined by an individual familiar with the missing person, and the missing person is incapable of returning to the missing person's residence without assistance; and
(7) There is sufficient information available to indicate that a Silver Alert would assist in locating the missing person.
(b) The alerts shall include a description of the missing cognitively impaired person, such details of the circumstance surrounding him or her becoming missing, as may be known, and such other information as the State Police may deem pertinent and appropriate. The State Police shall in a timely manner update the broadcast media with new information when appropriate concerning the missing cognitively impaired person.
(c) The alerts also shall provide information concerning how those members of the public who have information relating to the missing cognitively impaired person may contact the State Police or other appropriate law-enforcement agency.
(d) Concurrent with the notice provided to the broadcast media, the State Police shall also notify the Department of Transportation, the Division of Highways and the West Virginia Turnpike Commission of the "Silver Alert" so that the department and the affected authorities may, if possible, through the use of their variable message signs, inform the motoring public that a "Silver Alert" is in progress and may provide information relating to the missing cognitively impaired person and how motorists may report any information they have to the State Police or other appropriate law-enforcement agency.
(e) The alerts shall terminate upon notice from the State Police.
(f) The secretary shall develop and undertake a campaign to inform law-enforcement agencies about the "Silver Alert" program established under this article.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session