Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed a law to create a statewide alert system for missing vulnerable adults, similar to the nationwide Amber Alert program, which will help authorities locate cognitively impaired persons who go missing.
The new law is in response to a number of instances where cognitively impaired individuals have wandered away from home and gone missing for an extended period of time, often placing themselves and others at risk.
"By creating this alert system we are protecting vulnerable adults who go missing from potential harm and helping families find and return their loved ones to safety," Governor Cuomo said. "Today New York joins a number of other states that have seen the value of this type of system in keeping safe cognitively impaired adults who wander away from home. I thank Senator Defrancisco and Assemblyman Magnarelli for sponsoring this important legislation."
The new system provides for the rapid public dissemination of information regarding adults with dementia, Alzheimer's, or other cognitive impairments who go missing. Under the new law, the same Amber Alert mechanisms used to find missing children will be activated for missing vulnerable adults, including the printing and distribution of photographs and posters, a toll-free twenty-four hour hotline, a curriculum for training law enforcement personnel, and assistance for returning missing vulnerable adults who are located out of state.
Senator John Defrancisco said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for signing into law this vital legislation that will set into motion a tremendous public outreach effort whenever a vulnerable senior citizen goes missing. Several years ago a woman here in Syracuse with Alzheimer's left her home in the middle of the night and traveled all the way to Connecticut, placing herself in harm's way. With a 'Golden Alert' system, New York will have new tools to protect vulnerable adults from the tragedies that can happen when they mistakenly leave home."
Assemblyman William Magnarelli said, "For many years we have seen the success of the Amber Alert system at locating missing children, and with today's signing New York will model this program to locate and return to their homes missing senior citizens with cognitive impairments. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law, and it should give families across the state reassurance that New York is standing ready to help whenever a loved one should go missing."