DOJ: News Release

Department of Justice Announces New Missing-Person Advisory Program

HELENA – Montana law enforcement agencies have another tool to find missing children and adults, thanks to a new program in the Division of Criminal Investigation at the Montana Department of Justice.

The new program — the Missing and Endangered Person Advisory, or MEPA — is an alternative to the well-known AMBER Alert program.

“AMBER Alerts are specifically limited to child abduction cases in which the child’s life may be in danger,” said Mike Batista, Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Administrator. “AMBER is not meant to track runaways, missing children, children involved in custody disputes or missing adults, yet those are the types of cases Montana law enforcement agencies deal with.

“MEPA allows agencies to quickly get the word out to the public and to other law enforcement around the state and the region.”

The DCI guidelines call for a local agency to first determine whether the case is appropriate for an AMBER Alert. If not, the agency can request an advisory.

  • DCI will issue the advisory through the National Weather Service, Montana Department of Transportation and the Montana Lottery.
  • Media — either in a specific region of the state or statewide — are notified via the Weather Service system or by e-mail or fax.
  • The requesting agency may also decide to send the advisory to border ports of entry or other public agencies.
  • If the missing person is under age 18, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is notified.

The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.

Generally, the MEPA will expire after 24 hours, although the requesting agency can ask for a longer time period. The advisory can also be updated or cancelled by the requester at any time.

“All of us want to help find missing Montanans, regardless of the circumstances,” Batista said. “A program like MEPA will be a useful option for law enforcement.”

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