Senate Judiciary passes 'Missing Persons Act'


By ERICA YOUNG

West Virginia Press Association Capitol Reporter

CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee moved to report SB 237 to the full Senate with the recommendation to pass on Monday. The bill contains an article known as the “Missing Persons Act,” which says the first 24 hours following the discovery that a person is missing are critical because if the person is not found within this time frame, it is “unlikely that he or she will be found alive or without serious injury.”

It states that since other states have been successful with the implementation of these programs, the legislature sees fit to establish them in West Virginia.

Scott Pettry of the West Virginia State Police Department elaborated on a part of the bill regarding the use of technology being helpful to locating missing persons. The section specifically referenced “traffic video recording and monitoring devices,” but Pettry also explained to the committee the use of Facebook and spreading of information through social media to let the public know things such as the height and weight of a missing person as well as the last thing he or she was seen wearing. He also said that police tend to get more responses about missing persons when the use of these technologies is involved.

Senator Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, the bill’s lead sponsor, spoke in support by saying “no one wants to experience a family member going missing.” and spoke about how scary it is for him even when his grandchildren wander off in a store.

No senators were opposed to the bill and quickly passed it through, with Committee Chair Charles Trump, R-Morgan,  commenting on how he feels this bill is better for people than any of the similar legislation that came through the senate last year. Trump also praised Jeffries for his work on the bill.