Purple Alert to protect adults with disabilities passes first committee

Purple Alert to protect adults with disabilities passes first committee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In January, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office put out an alert over its Twitter feed to try and locate Demetrius Coral, a 20-year old autistic man. Coral would eventually be found unharmed, however, for other adults with disabilities, “wandering off” can prove deadly.

“I filed this legislation in hopes of saving lives,” said Rep Joseph Casello (D - Boynton Beach) on Wednesday as he presented his bill (HB79) to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee.

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The bill, which received unanimous approval in the subcommittee, would set up a system similar to the Amber Alert and Silver Alert already in place across the state for adults with disabilities.

Under the bill, FDLE would establish a Purple Alert to be used for any missing person who has: “A mental or cognitive disability; an intellectual or developmental disability; a brain injury; another physical, mental, or emotional disability not related to substance abuse; or a combination of any such conditions. Whose disappearance poses a credible threat of immediate danger or serious bodily harm. Who cannot be returned to safety without law enforcement.”

“This can be broadcast through lottery terminals, activation of message signs on state highways,” said Rep. Casello. “These alerts can be tied to geographic areas and focus on the area where the missing adult is thought to be.”

Staff analysis of the bill places the cost for the system at about $170,000. The bill still has two more committee stops before it can be voted on by the full house.