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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 1

DPS Unveils New TxAlerts Flyer Program for Missing

By Ben Patterson

When an official AMBER, Blue, Silver or Endangered Missing alert is issued, immediate and clear communication to the public is critical. After law enforcement, the public is the next most critical resource in finding missing individuals. In many cases, the public hears about an alert either from the media, by a notice on one of their own electronic devices or by seeing an electronic sign on the side of the highway.

To add another communication tool to the mix of local and state law enforcement efforts, the Texas Department of Public Safety has created a new electronic flyer program. For the most part, the flyer is a single page PDF document created by any Texas law enforcement or communications personnel to provide media and subscribers information on the victim, suspect and vehicle.

Distribution is based on both a public subscription database and a database of news organizations and other stakeholders. Once the flyer is created, the distance of distribution is set based on whether the missing person(s) is suspected to be on foot or traveling in an automobile and is then distributed to the relevant ZIP codes in the alert area.

"This new tool greatly enhances the state's capabilities in locating missing persons," says Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

In addition to the document itself, the document can also be shared electronically or manually by sharing them online or posting physical copies of the flyers in high traffic areas, such as grocery stores, public transportation stops and churches.

The flyer also utilizes a Quick Response (QR) code in the top right corner, with which the public can quickly scan the code and share the flyer via social media or other electronic means.

Adding the electronic flyer concept to the existing tools of local and state law enforcement personnel will help ensure families are reunited faster, and hopefully, more safely.

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