Proposed N.J. bill would add to color-coded alert system

BY DUSTIN RACIOPPI The Record

The Silver and Amber alerts have become well-known features on road signs for New Jersey drivers when someone goes missing. Now there is a proposal moving through the Legislature to add another hue to the state's color-coded public notification system.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday approved a bill proposing a Gold Alert for people with developmental disabilities who are missing. The measure would hold many of the same standards as the Silver and Amber alerts, which are, respectivly, issued for lost individuals with dementia or cognitive impairments and abducted children. Highway signs would post details on the missing person, like their physical description, and participating media would help get information out for "rapid dissemination," according to the bill.

"Whenever a person goes missing, having more people on the lookout only increases the likelihood that the individual can return home safely," one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Paterson, said in a statement.

Another sponsor, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, said that "time is of the essence and knowledge is power."

"By creating widespread awareness as soon as possible, we can maximize the likelihood that a missing person will be found alive and unharmed," she said in a statement.