When a minor is abducted in New Jersey, or an elderly person goes missing, the state puts its Amber and Silver alert systems to work. But lawmakers want to make sure they don't miss out on what could be the most helpful tool: social media.

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Legislation that cleared a state Senate panel Thursday aims to expand the reach of the notices delivered during missing persons cases. The measure would require the attorney general, along with the State Police, develop a plan for alert information to be disseminated via NJSP's social media accounts.

"Time is of the essence, and the quicker these individuals are found, the better off we are," said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, D-Mercer, sponsor of the measure.

Using social media to share these alerts can reach a far larger audience at no additional cost and help reunite families as soon as possible, he said.

"Most people connect and receive their news through social media," added Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union. "Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account knows the power of sharing a post or retweeting."

The measure received approval from the full state Assembly in June.

Currently, people in New Jersey are informed of a child abduction through Amber Alerts, delivered via broadcast media and phones. Silver Alerts offer similar notices for missing senior citizens with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.