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Oregon Lawmakers Send 'Silver Alert' Bill To Governor

M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia
Oregon Capitol Building.

Oregonians could soon notice more alerts about people with Alzheimer's or dementia who have gone missing.

Oregon lawmakers Friday sent a measure to the governor that would require law enforcement agencies to create plans to alert the public using any technology of the agency's choice.

More than two dozen states use a similar strategy, which is often called the Silver Alert program.

The Oregon measure also urges police agencies to train their officers to assist people with dementia or a developmental disability.

Jon Bartholomew of the Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer's Association said that may ultimately save more lives than the Silver Alert itself.

"Making sure that officers have training on how to communicate with people with Alzheimer's disease, that's going to be much more effective than just saying, 'Oh, you need to flip a switch on an alert,'" he said.

Bartholomew said Silver Alerts probably won't be broadcast widely since, in the vast majority of cases, the missing person is no more than a mile or two from home.

Washington state has a program to advise the public of endangered missing persons. But lawmakers in Olympia this year rejected a proposal to change the name of the program to Silver Alert.

Opponents of the name change said it would create confusion with the Amber Alert program for kidnapped children.

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Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.