Florida could soon see a “Purple Alert” system for “when an adult with a cognitive, developmental or intellectual disability goes missing, and whose disappearance is a credible threat of immediate danger or serious bodily harm to themselves.”
This week, state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, and state Rep. Joe Casello, D-Boynton Beach, introduced the proposal to create a “Purple Alert” system, much like the current “Silver Alert” program currently in place for seniors who go missing.
The legislators pointed to a case from August 2018 when Joshua Marshall, a young man from Port St. Lucie with autism, went missing.
“He had been seen by a woman at a local gas station alive and well sometime after he was reported missing, but no alert had been sent to the residents of the area. Tragically, Joshua’s body was later found lifeless in a retention pond. Had awareness of his disappearance been spread through a Purple Alert, the likelihood of his survival would have been greater,” the two Democrats’ office noted.
If the bill becomes law, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) would manage Purple Alerts which would be broadcast through lottery terminals and, if a vehicle is involved, through signs from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“I am glad to sponsor this legislation for the second consecutive year,” said Berman on Tuesday. “Florida already sends alerts when seniors go missing, children are abducted, and officers are incapacitated in the line of duty and suspects pose an imminent threat to the public. This legislation would enlist the public’s help to ensure that vulnerable Floridians with intellectual or developmental disabilities can be immediately helped as well.”
“I am proud to sponsor this legislation in the House and work with Senator Berman to establish the Purple Alert activation. When someone with developmental or intellectual disabilities could be in immediate danger, the activation of the Purple Alert could make the difference in saving someone’s life. Public safety has and will always be one of my top priorities, ” Casello said.
The Legislature is currently holding its last committee week and will start its regular session next month.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.