Philly Council advances plan to hasten searches for special-needs people

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The city of Philadelphia is working to get the word out about missing and endangered persons, including those with special needs. 

A bill introduced in City Council calls for using every method necessary, including social media, to spread the word on missing and endangered persons who don’t meet the criteria for an Amber Alert. Amber Alerts are reserved for cases when abducted children in imminent danger.  

In discussing his bill, City Councilman Dennis O’Brien cited the example of a 30-year-old woman with autism who went missing and wasn’t found in time because an alert wasn’t issued.

“When her state paid caretaker lost track of her of in Macy’s, Christina was not able to ask anyone for help,” he said. “Sadly, less than 24 hours later after she went missing, she was found dead, half-naked on a West Philadelphia street between two parked cars.”

Friends Hospital psychologist Petra Kottsieper said she’s seen the same problems with older people who wander.

“Individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s … are highly at risk in the middle and later stages of those illnesses,” she said.

The bill will now go on to the full Council for consideration.

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