2010-04-09 / Top Stories

Paterson Looks To Improve MECC

Governor David A. Paterson today submitted legislation, Program Bill No. 233, that would expand New York’s Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse (MECC) – which oversees the AMBER-alert system – to missing adults who either cannot assist in their own recovery or who have disappeared under circumstances that indicate that they are in imminent danger.

Under the Governor’s proposal, the same system now used to disseminate missing child alerts to police agencies, broadcast networks, Thruway service areas, lottery terminals, airports and bus terminals, would be deployed when adults at particular risk go missing.

The bill is intended for adults who have a mental disability, cognitive disorder or physical disability that prevents them from assisting in their own recovery, as well as missing adults who have disappeared under circumstances that indicate they are in imminent danger of harm, such as those who were abducted or who are suicidal.

“The first hours after someone goes missing are the most critical, and we know that prompt notification of police and the community greatly increases the chances that a missing person will be safely recovered,” Paterson said. “We already have a proven infrastructure in place to disseminate alerts when a child or college student disappears, and now we can extend that protection to adults at almost no cost for increased safety and protection of our loved ones.”

Mary Ann Ragona, president of the Coalition of Alzheimer’s Association Chapters in New York State said, “The Coalition strongly supports the passage of legislation that expands an alert system for missing vulnerable adults.”

Over 60 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia will wander at some time during the disease and if not found within 24 hours have a 50 percent chance of either never being found, or being seriously injured. This bill will provide a much needed safety net for these most vulnerable individuals.

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