Purple Alert Might Be part of Amber And Silver, To Assist Florida Lacking Adults With Developmental Disabilities

If an adult with a developmental disorder is lost, law enforcement can send a Purple Alert. This is under a proposal that has just made its first stop on the House Committee. The Purple Alert is used for adults with certain medical conditions such as brain injuries or autism. MP Joseph Casello (D-Boynton Beach) says the Purple Alert can help families.

“There is a whole segment of people with mental, cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities who are not covered when they are missing. This bill is supposed to cover this part of the people, ”says Casello.

The state already has programs like Silver Alert that cover adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The government’s Amber Alert program is aimed at children.

Senator Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) also supports the proposal. She says a woman named Beverly Marshall contacted her to learn how her son’s death could have been prevented had a Purple Alert been present. According to Berman, Josh Marshall wandered away from home late at night and spent over an hour at a 7-11 gas station.

“He couldn’t ask for help because he didn’t speak or write. The workers in the store had no idea who he was or why he was up front. People saw that he was not wearing shoes and was walking in a one-sided gait because of his disability, and he was disturbed. They assumed he was drinking. You got the situation completely wrong. He was crying and barefoot and no one helped. They didn’t know he was disabled, ”says Berman. She read correspondence with Beverly Marshall before a Senate committee. After visiting the gas station, Josh Marshall drowned in a nearby pond. His mother Beverly is now calling on lawmakers to put the Purple Alert into effect.

Olivia Babis with Florida disability rights says she has been working with Berman on the bill since 2019. Babis says her group was initially concerned that the proposal might violate a person’s personal autonomy.

“So we didn’t want to see situations where you might have an overprotective parent and your son isn’t making the check-in call you usually have weekly and maybe the son was mad at mom and then decided to go into one Movie, and you missed that call. We didn’t want this mother to be able to call the police and issue a Purple Alert because she missed the call, ”says Babis.

But she now says the language of the bill has changed, and while her group still has heartburn, they are fine with the version as it exists now.

“So we changed the language of the bill to make sure the protection language was there. This must be a circumstance where information about the disappearance of the person is known. You can give descriptive information that this person will not be able to get to safety without help. Adding that language made sure we were balancing these two aspects of security and personal autonomy, ”says Babis.

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