With momentum from the missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis, a notification system for adults akin to Amber alerts for children has gained broad legislative support.
A bill to create an alert system for abducted, kidnapped or compromised adults has thus far sailed through the Wyoming Legislature.
House Bill 18 – Missing person alert systems passed through the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee with a unanimous vote of support on Monday. On Tuesday it was placed on general file in the Wyoming House of Representatives, and upon introduction it passed the committee of the whole.
If it passes, HB 18 would integrate federal, tribal and local law enforcement agencies in Wyoming under a common Amber-alert like system called the Ashanti alert — named for a 19-year-old Virginia resident, Ashanti Billie, who went missing after being abducted in 2017 and was found dead two weeks later 350 miles away.
The idea to bring Ashanti alerts to Wyoming — a system already in place elsewhere — emerged from the Legislature’s Select Committee on Tribal Relations in response to disproportionately higher rates of missing Indigenous Wyoming residents. In 2021, Indigenous people accounted for 17% of Wyoming’s missing persons cases, though they’re just 3% of the state’s population.
Why it matters:
The new alert system would give law enforcement agencies another tool to locate missing Wyoming adults, Indigenous or not. The alerts are applicable to missing adults with special needs or circumstances and also missing adults who are “endangered” or have been involuntarily abducted or kidnapped.
Who said what:
At the onset of the Legislature’s general session, Gov. Mark Gordon pushed HB 18 during his State of the State address.
This article was originally published by WyoFile and is republished here with permission. WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.