A recent legislative Interim Study provided valuable input on how to improve a proposal made for runaway alerts.


To The Editor:

 

A recent legislative Interim Study provided valuable input on how to improve a proposal I have made for runaway alerts. 

This study delved into the complexity of dealing with reports of runaway children. I appreciated the input and agree that we want to be careful in working on how law enforcement operates regarding runaways. I will continue to work with law enforcement entities to ensure that any legislation I propose in the coming legislative session addresses their concerns.

My proposal came from discussions with smaller police departments and the families of runaways. I envision a voluntary system that officers can use to receive reports for runaways in specific zip codes or geographic areas.

This is by no means a mandatory system forced on police officers. These alerts, sent out through text message or e-mail, will only be sent to officers who sign up to receive notice of runaways in their general area.

I would also like to authorize law enforcement to take reported runaways into custody and conduct an exit interview to verify reasons they left home.

The concern I received from one set of parents was that when their child was found, there was no way to detain the runaway since laws currently prevent that. There might be cases where it appears the child has rights, but what about parents, who are also legal guardians, and their desire to find their child?

A main concern raised is to avoid creating a new system if the existing systems can be modified to accomplish the same goal. 

I see the point that another public alert system would create problems for law enforcement. I think that the biggest change to the existing bill will be to adjust it to modify the current system used by Oklahoma law enforcement officials rather than create a new system.

 

Sincerely, Joe Dorman


 

Note: A Democrat from Rush Springs, Dorman represents District 65 at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. According to Don Hull, a detective with the Oklahoma Police Missing Persons Unit, there were 1,351 runaway cases assigned to the Oklahoma City Missing Persons Unit in 2012 and more than 700 so far this year.


Joe Dorman

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