Silver Alerts Spike In New Jersey [AUDIO]
If you ever drive on any of the major Interstate highways in Jersey, you have no doubt noticed the increasing number of Silver Alerts posted on those electronic message boards.
Often there are 3 or 4 of them a week, but it turns out many drivers aren't even sure what they are.
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, who was a primary sponsor of legislation to create the Silver Alerts, says, "A Silver Alert means there is a missing person that's believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment - they may not know that they're missing, they may not know where they are, and we can all help by being on the lookout to spot them…The system isn't perfect, but it has been helpful in locating some people that went missing."
When local police have a senior citizen that's missing, they contact the New Jersey State Police to have the DOT post the Silver Alert message electronically.
Moriarty says it's important to have these alerts put out across the entire state because "it's very easy in New Jersey with all the major highways, to end up on the other side of the state in a very short period of time…There have been instances where someone went missing that had Alzheimer's and was found 150 miles away, so I would say that just because they went missing in Essex County that doesn't mean that they couldn't easily be in Gloucester County."
He points out sometimes the Alert will be detailed, and sometimes it won't.
"I always think the more information the better; however, sometimes the police may only have limited information about a missing senior. For instance, they may only have a description of the person…This is an important program because we are an aging population - there are more seniors, people are living longer, and they are driving longer."
Moriarty adds, "We don't want people to start disregarding the alerts cause they see them too often. If someone is missing and motorists can help, I think that the good people of New Jersey would want to do so, and they have in the past…If you see a Silver Alert and you see a description of the car, of the license number, look around, and if you see cars on the side of the road, that may be one of the cars…It could be very helpful not only to getting that person safely back to their home, but preventing them from causing an accident, because they may not be in their proper state of mind."