The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 24, 2013

Expanded Amber alerts


The Register-Herald

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Saving children’s lives.

That’s what a bill brought before the House during state legislative sessions last week could mean to West Virginians.

It has the potential to rescue a child who has gone missing.

It’s a meaningful bill that we support.

Under House Bill 2453, if it passes into law, missing children could also be objects of the Amber Alert, now reserved only for the abducted.

Known as “Skylar’s Law,” it is named for Skylar Neese, who was 16 when she vanished from her Morgantown home last July 6. Her remains were found in Pennsylvania two months ago.

Skylar served as a House page eight years ago of the bill’s lead sponsor, Delegate Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia.

The bill stipulates that a special coordinator for the State Police must decide on each individual missing child case before posting it on Amber Alert.

Because she was considered missing but not abducted initially, Skylar’s disappearance wasn’t brought to the attention of State Police for two months.

A new law would expedite a process in locating children in situations such as Skylar’s.

“As with anything else, we need to start searching right away,” Marshall said. “You’d want someone to look for your child as soon as possible. Time is of the essence. We need to be out there looking right away.”

Some supportive legislators pointed to advancements in technology as being able to far better achieve positive results than in years past.

Electronic message boards on highways, while also utilizing media outlets and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, would rapidly broadcast critical information that could aid in locating missing or abducted children.

“I remember as a young person seeing missing children on milk cartons,” one legislator recalled.

Narrowing the gap of time is crucial in increasing the chances of locating missing children.

We believe that it is necessary to take advantage of every opportunity we can to protect our children.

This is one great step toward that goal.