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Gov. Evers Signs “Prince Act” to Expand AMBER Alert System for Missing Kids PDF Print E-mail
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Written by GOV Press Wisconsin   
Tuesday, 09 April 2024 16:10

prince-mccreeLegislation comes in the wake of the tragic disappearances of Prince McCree in Milwaukee and Lily Peters in Chippewa Falls.


MILWAUKEE — Gov. Tony Evers today signed the “Prince Act”—Senate Bill (SB) 981, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 272—which aims to address gaps in the Wisconsin AMBER Alert System by expanding criteria for issuing alerts for missing children. Gov. Evers enacted Act 272 at the former elementary school of Prince McCree, Hawley Environmental School in Milwaukee, whose tragic disappearance inspired his neighbor, State Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), to champion and pass SB 981 to enhance Wisconsin’s AMBER Alert System. The governor was joined for the signing ceremony by members of Prince’s family, bill co-author State Sen. Johnson, school and district officials, students, and community members, among others.

The Prince Act was created in response to the tragic disappearances and deaths of Prince McCree and Lily Peters to ensure authorities in future missing child cases have expanded resources to issue quicker and more robust alert notices to the public, hopefully ensuring kids are able to be quickly located and returned home safely in the future.

tony-evers“The idea of having your child go missing is something no parent ever wants to imagine or, heaven forbid, experience firsthand. But all too often, families are faced with these impossible situations,” said Gov. Evers. “In moments like these, when loved ones and communities are gripped by worry and fear and every moment is vital to locate a missing child, every resource should be made available to bring that kid home.

“For five-year-old Prince McCree’s family in Milwaukee last year and 10-year-old Lily Peters’ family in Chippewa Falls in 2022, heartbreakingly, this was not the case,” continued Gov. Evers. “In these tragic cases, circumstances around Prince and Lily’s disappearances were considered to not have met the threshold statutorily to issue an AMBER Alert. But today, thanks to the important advocacy and determination of many, I am proud to sign Senate Bill 981—the Prince Act—to help ensure similar situations never occur again.”

“Prince was a light in our lives and a joy to everyone who met him. There are simply no words to describe the pain our family has experienced ever since his passing,” said Jordan Barger, Prince’s mother. “What happened to Prince shouldn’t happen to any child. The current alert system failed him and failed our family, and I hope that with this new law, more families will get the attention and resources they need to bring their kids home safely. I want to thank Sen. LaTonya Johnson for keeping her promise to our family and fighting to pass this legislation and Gov. Evers for signing these important changes into law in honor of our son.”

Lily PetersIndividuals from Lily Peters’ family noted they are very grateful for this bill being enacted and that the sooner the public can be made aware of a missing child, the better. They feel this bill will help many children in the future.

According to AMBER Alert Wisconsin, to issue an AMBER Alert, a child must be 17 years of age or younger, in danger of serious bodily harm or death, and the initiating agency must have enough descriptive information about the child, the suspect and/or the suspect vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help locate the child.

On Oct. 25, 2023, five-year-old Prince McCree stayed home from school because he was sick. Prince’s mother had allowed him to play video games in the basement with members of the household, which occurred regularly. Prince’s mother later could not find him and proceeded to call the authorities to report him missing. The Milwaukee Police Department requested an AMBER Alert; however, the request was denied. The next day, on Oct. 26, 2023, Prince’s body was discovered.

On April 24, 2022, 10-year-old Iliana “Lily” Peters went to visit her aunt’s house, located nearly a quarter of a mile away from her home. Lily’s father later reported that she was missing at 9 p.m. after Lily had not returned home. At the time of her disappearance, the Chippewa Falls Police Department reported Lily’s case had not met the criteria for an AMBER Alert. The next morning, April 25, 2022, Lily’s body was discovered.

In the wake of both disappearances, the Milwaukee and Chippewa Falls communities, with the help of friends and relatives, helped search for and spread information about the disappearances of Prince and Lily. The outpouring of support from both these communities led to a statewide campaign to address concerns with alert notices, including AMBER Alerts.

Senate Bill 981, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 272:

  • Expands the Silver Alert system to apply to certain children.
    • An alert could be issued if the person is under the age of 18, their location is unknown, they do not otherwise qualify for another alert, and they are unable to return home without help because of a physical or mental condition, disability, or age (i.e., that they are under 10 years old).
 
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