OCEAN CITY – Citing the number of elderly visitors to the resort, along with a substantial year-round senior citizen population, Ocean City Police this week announced the department is partnering with state law enforcement officials on a new initiative aimed at the timely recovery of individuals with cognitive disorders who go missing.
Maryland’s new “Silver Alert” program officially became a state law in October and allied law enforcement agencies around the state, including Ocean City, are in a process of implementing the initiative. The law requires the Maryland State Police (MSP) to coordinate a notification plan that will activate with when individuals with cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, are reported missing.
Patterned after the highly successful “Amber Alert” program for children reported missing, the “Silver Alert” program requires certain criteria be met involving a reported missing person. If the situation warrants, the state or local police investigating the disappearance will contact the Maryland State Police Silver Alert coordinator, who will, in turn, contact the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and request an emergency alert. The alert will then go out to all Maryland police departments, media outlets and 911 centers.
In addition, the program coordinator will also contact the State Highway Administration (SHA) with alert information such as a description of the individual and a vehicle he or she might be traveling in, which will then be posted on overhead highway signs in the geographic area where the missing person was last seen. Similar information may also be broadcast on the Highway Advisory Radio Network.
The program is the result of legislation passed by the General Assembly last spring. Just a few weeks into the new program, state law enforcement officials are already singing its praises.
“Our new Silver Alert program gives us a coordinated way to communicate information about a critically missing person as quickly as possible and to as many people as possible,” said MSP Superintendent Colonel Terrence Sheridan.
Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino also praised the state’s new system, pointing out the resort is host to a large number of senior citizen visitors as well as having a significant population of retired residents.
“We support the state of Maryland’s new ‘Silver Alert’ program,” she said. “I believe this system could reduce tragedies by maximizing the notification of citizens everywhere.”