Legislation that’s intended to help locate missing endangered persons was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday and will be sent to the governor for his signature.
The measure sponsored by Senator Mike O'Pake of Berks County creates the Missing Endangered Person Alert (MEPA) System.
“Providing Missing Endangered Person Advisories will be an important means to avoiding tragic results for missing Alzheimers patients and other vulnerable persons.”
O'Pake says unfortunately, especially around this time every year, we learn about tragedies that might have been avoided. He pointed to recent cases in Pennsylvania in which an 82-year-old woman was found dead after wandering away from her nursing home and a 94-year-old man was found frozen in a field after leaving his home.
“Even in warmer weather there are dangers, an 88-year-old year Alzheimer’s patient was found drowned in the Lehigh River just this summer."
Senator O’Pake said the MEPA proposal came about because the success of the Amber Alert system created interest in having similar programs for other vulnerable groups. O’Pake, who authored the state Amber Alert law, said the new bill will make Amber
Alert resources available to local police whenever someone with a physical or mental condition or disability is missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances.
The Reading Democrat says by having a single notification for cases other than Amber Alerts, the hope is to avoid having a number of different alerts that could create confusion and weaken the effectiveness of all.
Local police could choose to continue to put out their own notices in non-Amber cases rather than using the MEPA system.