PHOENIX - Arizona law enforcement agencies and broadcasters are establishing a new statewide system to get the word out to the public when there's a missing adult considered to be in danger of death or serious injury.
With the new Arizona Endangered Person Alert System, local law enforcement agencies will submit reports on endangered missing adults to the state Department of Public Safety.
DPS then will check specifics of cases against criteria for use of the new program, officials said Wednesday.
Unlike the state's Amber Alert program for abducted children, the notices for missing adults won't be automatically broadcast on radio and television stations.
Instead, DPS will use an existing telephone and e-mail alert system to provide information to media outlets for distribution.
Also unlike Amber Alerts, the new adult alerts won't be posted on urban area freeway signs, partly because the cases won't involve the same time crunch as those involving abducted children, officials said.
Some other states have "silver alert" programs for cases involving missing seniors, but Attorney General Terry Goddard said the Arizona system can be used for any missing adults considered to be in serious danger and whose cases match the program's preset criteria.
However, it's likely that most notices will be for seniors with dementia who "get away from their caregivers, get away from their families," he said. Particularly in summer months, "they might be at risk of a tragedy."
Arizona Broadcasters Association president Art Brooks and DPS Lt. Jim Warriner said 57 Amber Alerts for children have been issued in Arizona since that program was established six years ago.
All those children were recovered safely but it isn't known how many instances were due to alerts, Brooks said.