Local News

Paperwork problems cause Silver Alert delays

Posted March 19, 2010 10:50 p.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2010 11:13 p.m. EDT

Silver Alert

— Silver Alerts are supposed to be a fast and efficient way to get information out about missing persons with cognitive impairments. But sometimes those alerts are not sent out immediately due to problems with paperwork.

Developed in 2007, Silver Alert is a system to quickly notify the public about missing endangered adults who suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer's disease.

It also allows caregivers and nursing homes to report a person missing. In the past, only a family member could report an adult missing.

In order to get a Silver Alert issued, law enforcement agencies must submit paperwork to the state signed by a legal guardian for the missing person. They must also show the case involves a person with a mental or cognitive impairment.

Michael Schlesinger, 74, was the subject of a Silver Alert on Thursday. Raleigh Police sent out a press release about Schlesinger around 5:30 p.m., but a Silver Alert took much longer.

The alert wasn’t issued until four hours later because the paperwork was not filled out accurately and police weren’t immediately notified that it needed to be resubmitted, NC Center for Missing Persons spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.

“In terms of the delay on the Silver Alert, we'll look at that and work with the state on that,” Raleigh Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

“We've seen a lot of paperwork come in that can sometimes delay the issuance or denial of a Silver Alert based on the lack of accurate or delayed information,” Gordon said.

Schlesinger was found safe Thursday night, Raleigh police said.

“If something can be learned from that, we'll certainly learn it and maybe it will lead to a change in the process that makes things run more smoothly in the future,” Sughrue said.

So far more than 30 Silver Alerts have been issued this year. Last year, 230 were issued.