This week, two state legislators presented their proposal to create a “Purple alertSystem in Florida.
State Senator Lori Berman |, D-Delray Beach and State Representative Joe CaselloD-Boynton Beach proposed legislation to create a system of “missing an adult with a cognitive, developmental, or intellectual disability and whose disappearance poses a credible risk of imminent danger or serious bodily harm to oneself,” which largely followed would be the “Silver Alert” activation system used when a senior is missing and in danger.
The Casello team offered some of the reasons for the proposal.
“In August 2018, an autistic young man named Joshua Marshall from Port St. Lucie went missing. He had been seen alive and well by a woman at a local gas station shortly after he was reported missing, but the area residents had not been alerted. Tragically, Joshua’s body was later found lifeless in a retention basin. If awareness of his disappearance had been spread through a Purple Alert, the likelihood of his survival would have been greater, ”remarked Casello’s office.
“The alert system would largely be administered by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which would ensure that an alert would only be activated when there was sufficient descriptive information about the missing adult and the circumstances of the missing disappearance. Notifications for the Purple Alert are sent to lottery terminals at gas stations, grocery stores, and supermarkets in a regional area where the missing adult can reasonably be found. If a vehicle is involved, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Road Safety and Motor Vehicles would also coordinate the use of the dynamic signs, ”added Casello’s office.
Berman has fought for this legislation before, which she noted this week.
“I’m happy to be sponsoring this legislation for the third year in a row,” said Berman. “Florida is already sending alerts when seniors are missing, children are abducted, officers are incapacitated on duty, and suspects pose an imminent threat to the public. This legislation would enlist the help of the public to ensure that vulnerable Floridians with intellectual or developmental disabilities can receive immediate help. “
“I’m proud to sponsor this in-house legislation and work with Senator Berman to set up Purple Alert Activation. If someone with developmental or intellectual disabilities could be in imminent danger, activating the Purple Alert could make all the difference in saving someone’s life. Public safety has and always will be one of my top priorities, ”said Casello.
Florida Disability Rights supports the proposal. Olivia Babis, a senior public rights analyst with Disability Rights Florida, offered to take the bill.
Disability Rights Florida has worked closely with Senator Berman for the past three years to ensure the Purple Alert balances the personal safety concerns of people with disabilities about maintaining personal autonomy. We appreciate that the Senator involved the disability community in this important discussion with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Department of Transportation and gave people with disabilities an equal voice to help strike that balance, ”said Babis.
Berman’s bill was sent to Senate Transport; Children, families and the elderly; Appropriations committees.
Reach Kevin Derby at [email protected].