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Idaho Senate votes to create Amber Alert-like endangered person alert system

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice
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Idaho is part of the national Amber Alert broadcast system.

Its sponsors say the system would allow alerts in a wider variety of cases.

The Idaho Senate has voted to create an alert system for missing and endangered people. The system would be a supplement to the national Amber Alert system, in which Idaho participates.

In the small town of Fruitland, Idaho, a five-year-old boy disappeared last July. The community’s search for him has not been successful, but it has spurred a call for a better public warning system.

“His case did not qualify for an Amber Alert," said Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland). “An Amber requires that you have a known abduction, that you have a description of a vehicle.”

Lee is proposing a bill that would create a state system to publicize a broader range of emergencies, including the disappearance of older residents or Native people.

“As I started working on this I realized that Idaho is the only state in the Northwest that doesn’t have this system," she said.

Critics disagree. They say it does have this capability and they’re worried about the price of installing a new system, an estimated $1.3 million with $87,000 in ongoing annual costs.

Nonetheless, the bill was approved by a 31-to-four vote and now heads to the state House with just one week left in the session.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.