Indiana News

Amber, Silver, Blue, Red: Color-Coded Alerts Multiply in Indiana

7/22/2013


Peyton Riekhof (photo courtesy Fishers Police Department)

Indiana now has three color-coded "alert" warnings for missing persons -- and the spectrum doesn't stop there.

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A day after Fishers teenager Peyton Riekhof disappeared last week, State Police issued a Silver Alert, the state notification system for missing and endangered adults. Those alerts usually involve senior citizens. But the law doesn't specify the elderly -- it covers any missing adult who either has a mental impairment or is considered at high risk of injury or death.

Fishers police have said Riekhof was "agitated" when she left her boyfriend's home sometime before 2:00 a.m. Thursday. State Police canceled the alert when Riekhof's SUV was found in a pond.

Because Riekhof was 18, she didn't fit the criteria for the better-known Amber Alert for missing children. Even if she were younger, police have stricter criteria for issuing Amber Alerts. The alert is explicitly reserved for child abduction cases in which the victim is in immediate danger and there's enough information about the suspect or his vehicle to enable people to be on the lookout.

Three weeks ago, a new state law established a third color-coded alert. Indiana is the 16th state to institute a Blue Alert when a police officer is missing, injured or killed.

State Police spokesman Dave Bursten says he doubts Blue Alerts will be used often. He notes injuries to police typically result in heavy media coverage anyway. But he says people violent enough to attack an officer are especially dangerous to the general public, and the alert provides an extra warning tool when those people are on the loose.

Bursten says State Police are conscious of the risk of "alert overload," with so many alerts being issued that the public doesn't pay as much attention. He says ISP set the stricter rules for Amber Alerts with that risk in mind. Some states, Bursten says, issue Amber Alerts for any missing child. He says doing that in Indiana would result in an alert an average of every 43 minutes.

The Amber, Silver and Blue Alerts rely on voluntary cooperation from radio and TV stations to broadcast the information, and are overseen by State Police. But Riekhof's disappearance marked the first use of Fishers' new local notification system, Code Red. 31-thousand residents have signed up to be notified directly by phone, email or text of emergencies ranging from missing persons to severe weather.

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