State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Modeled after Wisconsin’s Amber Alert Plan, legislation I have drafted would utilize the Amber Alert system to alert the public about an elderly person wandering or becoming lost. Called the Silver Alert, the system would not increase costs because it uses a service already in operation.
My legislation would also use the current system to notify the public about a sex offender being monitored by Global Positioning System (GPS) either tampers with the GPS device or if the device is not working.
When an Amber Alert is activated, Wisconsin radio and television stations cut into programming to broadcast information about an abducted child using the Emergency Alert System. Highway message board signs also convey information about confirmed child abduction.
Eight states have instituted a Silver Alert-type system that helps find missing Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. Silver Alert has been successful. A majority of those reported missing have returned safely. Stateline.org reports:
“At least 5.2 million Americans suffer from dementia, and research shows that six out of 10 of those will wander. Only 4 percent of those who leave home alone are able to find their way back without help, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Every year, hundreds of seniors and others with dementia wander away, on foot or driving, and if not found within 24 hours, at least half suffer serious injury or death, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As baby boomers age, the toll is expected to multiply.”
Getting information out quickly and employing the aid of the public may prevent the tragic death of a senior citizen.
Because of my work during the past several years on sex predator/offender issues, I have included offenders that tamper with GPS devices in my legislation. Tampering with a GPS device is a felony. Wisconsin law also prohibits blocking, diffusing or preventing the transmission of a signal from a GPS device.
Should an offender tamper with GPS or if the monitoring device ceases to function, the state’s current Amber Alert System would be used to notify the public of pertinent information about the offender.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on May 10, 2008, that Roy Jackson, convicted of first degree sexual assault of a child, cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on March 6 while on parole. Jackson went into hiding, but was apprehended in New Holstein by a team of Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Deputies, Sheboygan Police Officers and Deputy U.S. Marshals during a special operation in early June. Jackson had been at large for about three months and was hiding under a couch at the time of his arrest.
Sex offenders tampering with GPS pose a risk to families and their children. The public needs to be given as much information as possible in such instances to insure they can better protect themselves and their children.
I will introduce my legislation to add senior citizens that go missing and sex offenders that tamper with GPS to the current Amber Alert System during the next legislative session that begins January 2009.
Here is an analysis of my legislation from the Wisconsin State Legislative Reference Bureau:
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) currently administers the Amber Alert System, under which it works with law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and others to disseminate information regarding certain missing child cases.
This bill creates a statutory requirement that DOJ administer an alert system to disseminate information regarding missing adults who are cognitively impaired. This bill also provides civil immunity to persons who, as participants in this alert program, disseminate alerts regarding missing adults at risk and to persons who assist an adult at risk who is the subject of an alert.
Under current law, the Department of Corrections (DOC) uses global positioning system tracking devices (GPS devices) to monitor certain sex offenders, and tampering with such GPS devices is a felony. Under this bill, if DOC believes that the GPS device monitoring a sex offender has been tampered with, or is otherwise not working at a risk to public safety, DOC will alert DOJ. DOJ will administer an alert system to disseminate information regarding that sex offender."