House committee tables Silver Alert bill By Jim Mendoza

From Hawaii NewsNow:

Supporters of a Silver Alert point to Hawaii’s aging population. Studies show that over a quarter of a million baby boomers will hit 65 by the year 2020.

The alert would mirror the Maile Amber Alert, the all-points-bulletin fed over freeway signs, radio and TV stations when a child goes missing.

“I think that it would a great idea for seniors who lost their way or who just need some help,” Kalihi resident Nyree Silva said.

State Rep. Aaron Johanson and several colleagues co-sponsored House Bill 1614. He said safety of seniors is a constant concern.

“With a growing population, there are going to be more incidences and experiences with Alzheimers and other things that affect the mental capacity of seniors, which makes them particularly vulnerable,” he said.

A Silver Alert would be limited to people 65 or older.

Twenty-seven other states and the city of New York use the system or similar programs targeting missing seniors.

Still, AARP has some concerns.

“We don’t see in the current bill the kind of safeguards that should be there to make sure that seniors are not being called out as missing if they’re really not,” AARP Hawaii director Barbara Kim Stanton said.

The Honolulu Police Department testified against the measure, saying of the 141 reported cases of missing seniors in the past two years all were found within 24 hours — so the present system works.

HPD added the Silver Alert may confuse the public and hurt the Maile Amber Alert that’s triggered when a child is kidnapped.

The House Committee on Public Safety deferred the measure. But it could reappear next year.

“Even if this vehicle doesn’t have staying power, the idea certainly is going to continue to remain as an important on-going dialogue that needs to be had,” Johanson said.

Especially so since more and more people in Hawaii are entering their golden years.

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