ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — There are seven active missing children alerts and five active missing adult alerts across Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has to issue these missing person alerts but it all starts at the local level.
“We fill out our report, we send that to the TBI, the TBI is then in charge of all the alerts and then they push out those alerts to the media and to other outlets,” said Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker.
There are six different types of missing person alerts that the TBI can issue. Those include AMBER alerts, Silver Alerts, Blue Alerts, Endangered Child Alerts, and Endangered Young Adult Alerts. Find a full breakdown of each alert here.
Lieutenant Steve Owens with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office says he remembers a time when they didn’t have a missing person alert system at all.
“AMBER Alerts and Silver Alerts had not always existed in my career as a law enforcement officer. So the TBI starting these for Tennessee is very essential because early in my career there were lots of missing kids or even before silver alerts even began a lot of the time when we found the missing elderly person after they were diseased and somebody stumbled across them. So the TBI starting this program allows us to get to that person before it’s a bad outcome,” said Owens.
The two alerts you probably hear most often are Silver and AMBER Alerts. The AMBER alert was created in 1996.
“The criteria for that is you have to be under the age of 18, 17 or less, you have to be in imminent bodily danger, and there has to be some fear for your safety,” said Baker.
The Silver Alert was just passed into law in 2021. It is issued for seniors or those who may have wandered due to dementia, physical impairments, or a disability.
Owens said it’s imperative these alerts get out to the public so that they’re aware and can assist in the most serious cases.
“The only way that we can effectively do our job is to have partnerships with the public to be our eyes and ears for the things we can’t see or hear. If we don’t put these out then it’s just luck of the draw,” said Owens.
Each state has different criteria for missing individuals.
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office says at the moment they have no local active alerts. Within the last year, they’ve only had one AMBER alert issued and that person was found safe.