Silver Alert Frequently Asked Questions
Table of Contents

When did Florida’s Silver Alert Program begin?
What is the reason for implementing the Silver Alert Plan?
What are the criteria?
How does the Silver Alert get activated?
How long does a Silver Alert stay activated?
What is the role of the public during a Silver Alert?
What is the role of the media?
How can I sign up to receive Silver Alerts?
What area(s) does the Silver Alert cover?
Does a physician first have to verify or attest that the person has a cognitive impairment?
What are the “extraordinary circumstances” for persons under the age of 60?
Is a person with a mental illness, intellectual handicap or learning disability eligible for a Silver Alert?
How can I file a missing person report?
Do you use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) as you do with AMBER Alerts?
How many seniors in Florida are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s?
 
 
When did Florida’s Silver Alert Program begin?
Florida’s Silver Alert Plan was made effective by an Executive Order signed by Governor Charlie Crist on October 8, 2008.
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What is the reason for implementing the Silver Alert Plan?
Florida’s elderly population is growing and our state is committed to putting in place tools and technologies to ensure their safety and protection.
 
The Silver Alert is a standardized and coordinated law enforcement and state agency response to share information with the public to improve the chances of a safe recovery.
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What are the criteria?
Missing person must be 60 years or older and there must be a clear indication that the individual has an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties (i.e., dementia).  This must be verified by law enforcement
      or;
under extraordinary circumstances when a person age 18 to 59 has irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties and law enforcement has determined the missing person lacks the capacity to consent, and that the use of dynamic message signs may be the only possible way to rescue the missing person.
 
The primary criteria for State Silver Alert activation, in which all criteria must be met, in addition to the above are: 
  • There must be a description of the vehicle, and a tag number to display on the Florida Department of Transportation dynamic message signs;
  • Local law enforcement must verify vehicle and tag information;
  •  Local law enforcement must activate a local/regional Silver Alert by completing the following steps:
    1. The law enforcement agency’s investigation must conclude that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the person’s welfare and safety;
    2. Local law enforcement agency must have entered the missing person into the Florida Crime Information Center and issued a statewide BOLO to other law enforcement/911 centers; and,
    3. Local law enforcement has already activated a local or regional alert by contacting media outlet in theirs and/or surrounding jurisdictions.
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How does the Silver Alert get activated?
If you have a loved one missing you should contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. A law enforcement agency will take a report and may issue a local/regional Silver Alert if the case meets the criteria. If a local/regional Silver Alert has and the missing person is traveling in a motor vehicle, the law enforcement agency can request activation of a State Silver Alert. Only law enforcement can request a State Silver Alert.
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How long does a Silver Alert stay activated?
The local Law Enforcement Agency will determine the status of the Alert, but generally, the Alert stays active until the missing person is recovered. If a State Silver Alert is activated, the Department of Transportation (DOT) road signs will remain activated for six (6) hours, until the missing person is recovered, unless DOT is otherwise instructed.
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What is the role of the public during a Silver Alert?
The public can play an important role in the rescue of missing elderly persons with a cognitive impairment. When they hear about a Silver Alert in their area, they should actively make note of the description of the person and any additional information provided. If the public encounters or believes they see the vehicle or the missing person they should immediately call 911 or *FHP (347) to respond. They should make note of the person’s whereabouts, and if applicable, the vehicle tag, direction of travel and location observation (highway/street, city and county).
 
The public can also assist by being aware of those around them and recognizing when a senior is in need of assistance. If they come into contact with a senior who appears lost or disoriented, and they have reason to believe that will not be able to find their way home, they may be able to help prevent a Silver Alert by contacting law enforcement or, in the case of a family member, friend or neighbor, aiding the person in finding their way home.
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What is the role of the media?
Media outlets have the option on whether or not to broadcast Silver Alert information. Large audiences can be reached through the media, thereby enhancing everyone’s efforts in safely recovering a cognitively impaired missing person.
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How can I sign up to receive Silver Alerts?
You can sign up to receive State Silver Alerts by signing up on the Department of Elder Affairs website.
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What area(s) does the Silver Alert cover?
The local law enforcement agency is responsible for determining the radius of a local/regional Silver Alert. If a State Silver Alert is issued, Department of Transportation road signs are activated regionally as determined by case information.
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Does a physician have to verify or attest that the person has a cognitive impairment?
The reporting party should articulate to the local law enforcement agency that the missing person suffers from an irreversible deterioration of cognitive faculties (e.g. Alzheimer’s or dementia) or has symptoms that would indicate that they suffer from such a condition but it is undiagnosed. However, there is no requirement for a physician to confirm such a diagnosis has been made.
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What are the “extraordinary circumstances” for persons under the age of 60?
Law enforcement has various search and tracking tools to find missing persons. To maintain integrity of the system and not dilute its effectiveness, the road signs are used primarily for persons with irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties 60 years and older. However, road signs may be used in rare instances when that is the only viable method to locate a missing person under the age of 60 who otherwise meets criteria.
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Is a person with a mental illness, intellectual handicap or learning disability eligible for a Silver Alert?
A person with a mental illness, intellectual handicap or learning disability is only eligible for a Silver Alert if they also suffer from an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties (i.e. Alzheimer’s or dementia).
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How can I file a missing person report?
Contact the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction where the missing person was last seen.
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Do you use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) as you do with AMBER Alerts?
No, the EAS is restricted to child abductions, and is not used for any other cases involving missing persons. However, just like with Missing Child Alerts, television and radio stations will be notified and the information can be broadcasted to the viewing or listening public.
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How many seniors in Florida are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s?
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are 450,000 people in Florida with Alzheimer’s. 
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For more information please visit the FDLE Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse website or contact us by phone at 1-888-356-4774.