TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Starting next year, Florida will have a new alert to issue for missing people in the state.
The new "Purple Alert" redefines what the Florida Department of Law Enforcement designates as a "missing endangered person" under a new alert category.
In practice, it will be similar to other alerts in Florida, including Amber and Silver alerts.
The new alert was passed in a bill by Florida lawmakers during the legislative session. It was signed into law Wednesday by Governor Ron DeSantis.
It will take effect July 1, 2022.
Under the law, Purple Alerts will be issued for the following people:
- A missing child
- A missing adult younger than 26 years of age
- A missing adult older than 26 who is endangered or is victimized by "criminal activity"
The law says the alert will be established because it creates a standardized state system that can "improve the chances of finding" a missing person.
The Purple Alert will also help safeguard the "privacy rights and related health and diagnostic information of missing adults."
According to the law, a Purple Alert must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Is the only "viable means" the missing person can be found safely
- Provides the most protection of "privacy, dignity and independence" of the missing person
- Limits the distribution of alerts and information to the areas the missing person could be
- The alerts must have a "sufficient" description of the missing person and the circumstances of their disappearance
The new law says law enforcement can also issue a Purple Alert for a person who:
- Has a "mental or cognitive disability" that isn't Alzheimer's disease or dementia; a brain injury; or a physical, mental or emotional disability "not related to substance abuse"
- Is considered in danger of seriously hurting themselves
- Someone who "cannot be returned to safety" without help from law enforcement
- Does not meet the criteria for a local Silver Alert
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