Join CafeMom Today! Autism Amber Alert: New Albany Police Department to send out automated missing person calls
AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio for child abductions only! Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are NOT included in the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert. This really needs to change.

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Albany Police Department to send out automated missing person calls

New Albany Police Department to send out automated missing person calls

National program offers service for free to local law enforcement

An automated telephone service used by the New Albany Police Department for the first time last week could save lives and conserve police manpower.

NAPD recently collaborated with a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based organization called A Child Is Missing, or ACIM, to begin notifying people in a community when a child or elderly person goes missing.

Hundreds of automated calls went out to residents in New Albany last Thursday when an elderly woman was reported missing. The woman had wandered into a hospital and was safe, according to police, but those kinds of situations are frightening for families.

“We get a lot of reports that don’t always meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert, for missing children, or the SILVER Alert when an elderly person goes missing,” NAPD Capt. Keith Whitlow said. “In a lot of cases, we have absolutely nothing to go on. This will help us get information out there right away, and it’s completely free.”

The project is funded by the federal government but does not cost anything to the local police departments that use it.

When a missing persons report is taken, ACIM is notified of the person’s physical description, clothing worn and location where the person was last seen. A customized alert message is recorded and transmitted to telephone subscribers in the area where a missing person was last known to have been.

As many as 1,000 calls can be placed in 60 seconds. ACIM reports that 98 percent of residents and businesses answering the calls will listen to the message.

The organization has been in existence since 1997, but began a national expansion project in 2002, Vice President Claudia Corrigan said. ACIM began in Indiana in 2004.

Corrigan praised NAPD for contacting them and asking if they could use the service. She said they have had 41 “successes” in Indiana, most recently Jan. 25 in Muncie. They define a success as anytime law enforcement tells them that their alert caused a missing person to be found.

When someone with a mental illness or disability goes missing, time may be even more important.


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