Proposed Bill Would Create Alert System For Oklahoma Runaways

Monday, February 23rd 2015, 7:03 pm
By: News On 6

A state lawmaker wants to create a runaway alert system, like Amber Alerts, so each time a child runs away the state would notify the media and activate highway warning signs.

Parents of runaways think it would help find their missing kids, but police officers plan to lobby against it.

House bill 1169 is named for an Oklahoma girl who was murdered more than a year after she went missing.

Just in Tulsa, around 150 kids runaway every month; in the state it's 1,000.

Brook Richardson's middle son, 15-year-old Dylan, ran away Friday morning and still isn't home. It's his third time to run away, but in the past she's known where he was. This time, she has no idea.

"It's very scary knowing he could be out there and something could happen to him," she said.

She's posted information on social media, called the school and Dylan's friends and even a non-profit group that searches for kids.

She believes an alert system would help get the information out to a lot more people faster.

“I think it's wonderful that it gets out immediately and you don't have to wait for it to be passed on," Richardson said.

Police fear that notifying citizens of every runaway would make them numb; in Tulsa alone it would average four alerts a day, according to Tulsa Police Sergeant, John Adams.

“The public's not going to want to see that many over and over and won't pay attention to them,” he said.

Adams said some kids run away over and over and are soon home safe anyway.

He said house bill 1169 requires police to put every runaway into NCIC, which they already do, and notify the missing people organization, which they do.

There is one part of the bill Adams would like to see become law. It would allow officers to hold kids for parents once they find them.

"If we find a runaway, absent a pickup order from a judge, we have no standing to hold that child for a parent," he said.

Richardson and other parents like her just want to know everything's being done to bring their children home safely. She has a message for son, Dylan.

"We do love you. Your brothers do miss you and your friends are very worried about you," she said.

Police said a volunteer alert system where people could sign up for runaway alerts if they choose.

The bill also says parents might have to reimburse police for their efforts.

The bill hasn't passed committee yet.