How is a missing person alert raised in Tennessee?

ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – There are seven active missing child alerts and five active missing adult alerts throughout Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has to issue these missing persons reports, but it all starts at the local level.

“We complete our report, we send it to TBI, and TBI handles all the alerts and then forwards those alerts to the media and others,” Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker said.

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There are six different types of missing person alerts that the TBI can issue. These include AMBER Alerts, Silver Alerts, Blue Alerts, Vulnerable Child Alerts, and Vulnerable Young Adult Alerts. A full breakdown of each alert can be found here.

Lt. Steve Owens of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office says he remembers a time when they didn’t have a missing persons alert system at all.

“AMBER Alerts and Silver Alerts have not always existed in my law enforcement career. So the TBI starting these for Tennessee is very important because early in my career there were a lot of missing children or even before the silver alert even started when we found the missing elderly person after they were sick and someone tripped over them. So the TBI that’s starting this program allows us to get to that person before there’s a bad outcome,” Owens said.

The two alerts you are likely to hear the most are Silver and AMBER alerts. The AMBER alert was created in 1996.

“The criteria for this are that you must be under the age of 18, 17 or younger, you are in imminent physical danger and you have fears for your safety,” Baker said.

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The Silver Alert was not passed into law until 2021. It is issued to seniors or people who may have migrated due to dementia, physical impairments or a disability.

Owens said it’s imperative to get these warnings out to the public so they are aware and can help in the most serious cases.

“The only way we can do our jobs effectively is through partnerships with the public, who are our eyes and ears for the things we cannot see or hear. If we don’t get those out, it’s just hit and miss,” said Owens.

Each state has different criteria for missing persons.

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office says there are no local active alerts at this time. Only one AMBER alert has been issued in the last year and that individual has been found safe.

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