Lawmaker pushes for statewide alert system for adults

Updated: Dec. 31, 2019 at 10:56 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - There is a new push to create an alert system specifically for missing adults in Alabama, sparked by Aniah Blanchard’s kidnapping and murder.

State representative Merika Coleman is working to create an alert system for missing people between the ages of 18 and 64.

The state-wide alert system would be named after Aniah Blanchard who was missing more more than a month, her body found in Macon County in November 2019.

The person accused of Blanchard’s death has been arrested and charged.

The tragic details of what happened to Blanchard sparked Rep. Coleman to move forward with creating a statewide alert system for missing adults similar to the “Amber Alert” for missing children and the “Silver Alert” for missing elderly.

State Representative Merika Coleman is spearheading the effort.

“Just like when a child goes missing or a senior citizen is missing, we get those alerts on our phone,” said Rep. Merika Coleman (D-7).

Coleman said she had to contact ALEA to figure out how to get Blanchard, who was 19-years-old, to qualify for the Silver Alert system. The process took time and when searching for a missing person, time is critical.

As Coleman had been gearing up to file paperwork on the resolution for the next sate legislative session, another woman disappeared.

Trussville native Paighton Houston vanished from a Birmingham bar December 20th. At the time this article was published, Houston was still missing.

When Houston went missing there was no alert sent out for her because she’s 29-years-old.

“We should really have a system set up that actually looks for or alerts people when folks that are 18 to 64 years-old are missing,” said Coleman.

President Trump signed the Ashanti Alert Act in December 2018 named after 19-year-old Ashanti Billie who the previous year was abducted from a Norfolk navy base and killed.

The law creates a federal alert system for missing adults.

“So, what has not happened yet, is the President has not directly appointed the secretary for the Ashanti Law that would work directly with the state so that they can set up their own law,” said Coleman. “So, what we’re doing in the state of Alabama, we’re saying we’re not going to wait on the federal government.”

Rep. Coleman said she’d already garnered support for the resolution from both sides of the state legislature.

The next session begins in February.

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