BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation establishing guidelines and codifying procedures for an emergency alert system that aids in finding abducted children.
The bill (S 1110) codifies the AMBER Alert System, and designates it as the main system for the recovery of abducted children 17 years old and younger in Massachusetts.
The system was first launched in Texas in 1996 and stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.
The bill also requires more information to be entered into the missing child database, including fingerprint and blood type information, as well as identifying marks, prosthetics, photographs, and the description of clothing.
Under the bill, the colonel of the State Police will have the ability to activate and terminate AMBER Alert plans and the State Police, which would be required to publish best practices for reporting a missing person, would be given guidelines for handling human remains.
The bill also creates a missing persons task force that would review local and federal policies for law enforcement in missing persons cases.
Since then-Acting Gov. Jane Swift signed a 2002 memorandum of understanding with State Police setting up the system locally, the alert has been used 15 times and 23 children have been returned safely to their family, according to Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre), one of the bill’s sponsors.
“It is clearly a system that works,” Brewer said during a floor debate.