Missing child alert system could curb sex trafficking
This came out of the state House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon:
Legislation approved unanimously today by the Oklahoma House of Representatives would aid in the recovery of missing children and could help with law enforcement efforts to curb sex trafficking, according to the bill’s author.
House Bill 2227, by state Rep. Joe Dorman, would create a statewide runaway child alert system to be activated on behalf of a missing or runaway child. The legislation was approved by a vote of 94-0 and now advances to the state Senate, where it is being sponsored by state Sen. Mike Schulz (R-Altus).
“Although we have an Amber Alert system, that system has many restrictions and does not address some instances when a child has gone missing,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we see over 800,000 kids annually reported missing nationwide, with about 200,000 of those proven to be abductions by a family member and almost 58,000 abductions done by a person with no relation to the child. This legislation will help with efforts to further curb sex trafficking and to locate missing children who are not covered by the existing Amber Alert system.”
State Rep. Harold Wright, a co-author, offered a successful amendment to the legislation, renaming it after JaRay Wilson, a missing teenage girl who police believe was the victim of human trafficking. The legislation will now be known as the JaRay Wilson Runaway Child Alert System Act.
“I am a proud supporter of this legislation which would address missing and runaway children who currently fall through the cracks,” said Wright, R-Weatherford. “JaRay Wilson is a good example of the type of case this bill would address and I was pleased to be able to offer the amendment.”
The legislation specifies that the system would be used when a law enforcement entity receives notice of a missing or runaway child age 17 or younger and verifies the accuracy of the report. The bill encourages family members provide a photograph of the child, if one is available, and that runaway child alerts be reported to the national crime information center immediately. Alerts would be terminated as soon as the child is located or after the notification period ends, as determined by rules promulgated by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
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