Purple alerts to help families and law enforcement find missing people

  • The new Purple Alert can be activated by local law enforcement when a person with a mental or cognitive disability goes missing.

The Mississippi Legislature created a new purple alert during this year's session, intended to help families and law enforcement find a missing person known to have a mental or cognitive disability.

Purple Alerts join a public notification system managed by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation through the Department of Public Safety, which includes Amber Alerts for missing or abducted children and Silver Alerts for people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Local law enforcement may activate a purple alert.

Purple Alerts are specifically for missing persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, brain injuries, or other physical, mental, or emotional disabilities that are not related to substance abuse, Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

According to the law, if a Purple Alert is deemed necessary and appropriate, local law enforcement must notify the media and individuals who have registered to receive alert notifications in the jurisdiction where the missing person may be located. .

Law enforcement should also report the missing person to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Similar legislation was passed in Florida and Maryland, establishing purple alerts. Florida's system was created in 2022 while Maryland's was approved this year.

The new law, authored by State Rep. Clay Mansell, passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves in April. It comes into force on July 1.

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