Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Boost Program That Helps Law Enforcement Quickly Find Missing Persons

Durbin, Menendez, and 15 colleagues seek more resources to support A Child Is Missing program

WASHINGTON – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and 10 other Senators in introducing legislation (S. 1301) that would make a federal investment in an effective program that assists law enforcement efforts to locating missing persons quickly. They are seeking $5 million per year for six years for the non-profit organization A Child Is Missing, which generates 1,000 calls every 60 seconds to phone numbers in the immediate area where a missing person was last seen. Through its efforts, A Child Is Missing has been credited with assisting law enforcement in the successful recovery of more than 500 missing persons since it was established in 1997. This system can often be initiated quicker than Amber Alert, which requires a confirmation that the missing person has been abducted.


“In my state of Illinois, the ‘A Child Missing’ program has helped reunite 21 missing individuals with their families,” said Durbin. “When a child or loved one goes missing, we expect that law enforcement will do everything possible to bring that person home safely. It is our responsibility in Congress to make sure that local agencies and organizations have access to the best available resources to do just that.”


“All parents know that being unable to find your child for even a few seconds is terrifying, and we can only imagine the dread that accompanies having to report a missing person,” said Menendez. “We need to give parents and law enforcement every tool available to locate and safely recovery missing persons as quickly as possible. With this legislation, we can help ensure more missing person cases ultimately have happy endings.”


“I have supported and observed this program for years,” said Hatch. “A Child Is Missing is an invaluable tool to law enforcement with a proven track record of over 500 recoveries since its inception. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this important legislation that has reunited missing children and persons with special needs with their families.”


“In the case of a missing person, a short amount of time is the difference between finding or forever losing a loved one,” said Nelson. “That is why I’m supporting this legislation that would give law enforcement some extra help when someone is reported missing.”


“The first minutes and hours after a child or other loved one goes missing are crucial,” Martinez said “The quicker we get information out about the person, the better chance there is of a safe recovery. This provides the resources to conduct immediate search efforts to locate missing persons and fills the gaps that other rapid response systems do not cover.”


“Time is of the essence when searching for a missing child,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “With this program, we can help bring families, law enforcement, and other organizations together to improve the chances of finding missing persons and getting them back home safely.”


“A Child Is Missing Alert Program is simple and easy to use 24/7 by all law enforcement nationwide. It is presently being used by over 3500 departments nationwide. With this bill, so many more agencies will know about the program and will use it for emergencies immediately,” according to Sherry Friedlander, Founder/Executive Director, ACIM.


A Child Is Missing (ACIM) is the only program of its kind that assists in all missing cases involving abduction, children who are lost, wander or run away, the elderly (including those who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease), and mentally and physically challenged individuals. When a person is reported missing to the police, ACIM utilizes the latest technology to place 1,000 emergency calls every 60 seconds to residents and businesses in the area where the person was last seen. ACIM works in concert with the Amber Alert and all child safety programs, and has the support of law enforcement agencies all across the country, including the National Sheriff’s Association and the National Chief’s Association.


A Child Is Missing also fills a critical gap in time. Although the Amber Alert has been an extremely successful program, there is still a crucial void from when a child is first reported missing and when an Amber Alert, which is activated only in cases of abduction, can be issued. Moreover, many local law enforcement agencies have scant resources and manpower to conduct searches that can cost as much as $400,000 over twelve hours.