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Frequently Asked Questions on the Endangered Person Alert

Who activates an EPA?

Only law enforcement should activate an Endangered Person Alert. Local media who want to assist in the recovery of an Endangered Missing Person should only alert their readers, listeners or viewers when they have confirmed from law enforcement the person is missing under unusual circumstances.

For whom should the EPA be activated?

The Endangered Person Alert is activated when a person goes missing and is believed to be in danger of serious bodily injury or death due to age, health, mental or physical disability, environment, or in the company of a potentially dangerous person. An example would be when a person with a disease like Alzheimer’s or Autism has wandered off and is incapable of finding his or her way home.

How long do families have to wait before an EPA is activated?

There is no waiting period. You may call law enforcement immediately upon finding out your loved one has wandered off or gone missing. There is a common assumption that families must wait 24 hours before a missing persons report can be filed. This is false.
The sooner you and law enforcement act, the better!

How is the EPA different from the AMBER Alert?

The AMBER Alert is activated when a juvenile is abducted and his or her life is in ]immediate danger. The AMBER Alert then notifies citizens state-wide to help recover that child. For many reasons, the AMBER Alert criteria are very narrow, excluding many people who go missing for a variety of other reasons. The goal of the EPA is to create an alternate alert system which would mobilize a local community to quickly recover another, high risk demographic.

Why is the EPA left up to the local authorities?

The Endangered Person Alert was created to address the needs of constituency that, when they do wander or go missing, statistically don’t travel far. So, it’s a better use of resources to focus search and rescue, and media notification locally. However, the Endangered Person Alert does empower local law enforcement to work with the Department of Public Safety if their investigation indicates the endangered missing has traveled outside of the local area. Then, DPS will gladly notify state-wide media and request Iowans across the state "be on the look-out"