Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Denish Gets Missing Person Work Group Update

In March, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish proposed a new emergency alert system, similar to Amber Alerts, for missing adults and convened a task group to consider a system following the discovery of 11 missing women and a fetus on Albuquerque's West Mesa.

We reported on the task force's first meeting here.

Today, the Lt. Governor got the groups first recommendations and we just got this update from her office.

From a News Release

ALBUQUERQUE – Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish today hosted a meeting to hear reports and recommendations from the members of the missing person work group.

Representatives from law enforcement, the media, community advocates and elected officials attended the meeting. The gathering today was the second meeting of the missing person work group. At the end of March, Lieutenant Governor Denish organized the first meeting of the group to discuss effective means of finding missing people of all ages and backgrounds.

Lieutenant Governor Denish established three work groups earlier this year: the media and law enforcement group chaired by Mary Lynn Roper, General Manager of KOAT-TV; the data improvement work group chaired by Major Robert Shilling of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety; and the Community Outreach and Networking Group chaired by Lisa Simpson, Executive Director of Crossroads Transition Services for Women. Each work group has met and has developed recommendations.

“I am pleased that such a diverse group of people have been a part of this important discussion,” said Lieutenant Governor Denish. “We are all committed to developing a more comprehensive approach to finding missing people, despite the circumstances of their disappearance. Effective means of communication among law enforcement and the media is essential as is enhanced data sharing among law enforcement agencies. This will ensure the safety of our citizens and mobilize efforts to find missing people.”

A key recommendation from every work group was to implement a public education campaign. This campaign will be directed towards members of the public as well as members of law enforcement. The education campaign will ensure the public is aware of the process for reporting a missing person and tracking their case.

For example, a person does not have to be missing 24 or 48 hours before law enforcement considers them missing. There also exists a statewide number (1-800-HLP-FIND) that connects directly to a statewide missing person clearing house.

Enhanced and consistent training of law enforcement on reporting and tracking of missing people was recommended as well as increased efforts to ensure data sharing and effective communication among state and local law enforcement.

Compiling all of the associated and pertinent missing person statues into one comprehensive statue was recommended. “I look forward to working with Lt. Governor Denish to review all of the current state regulations on missing people to make sure that they are the most effective and to guarantee that these laws are adequately enforced,” stated State Senator Sander Rue, a member of the missing person work group.

“As a result of this meeting, there are a number of areas that we can begin work on right now, including no-cost and low-cost recommendations to various agencies and providers about proposed improvements” said Lieutenant Governor Denish.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

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