The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is touting the success of its Missing Persons Alert System (MPAS), which underwent significant modernization and upgrades this year.

Over the past year, MPAS saw two significant upgrades. In July, the system added the ability to geo-target the Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA, which go directly to the public’s cell phones. In a press release, the WSP says that this upgrade allows for a more targeted search area and reduces the number of notices an individual may receive so as not to be overwhelming, unproductive, or irritating.

WSP’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit (MUPU) can also embed a hyperlink in those messages that will take you directly to the MUPU Twitter page, where a user can view a poster with photos of the missing person, as well as the involved vehicle and suspect if one has been identified. WSP notes that users do not need a Twitter account to view the active poster.

“This technology has been a game changer for missing person alerts around the country and Washington is excited to introduce this new way of distributing important information to the public in a more targeted manner,” said MUPU Director Carri Gordon. “We are fortunate in Washington that the general public, government agencies, and local broadcasters have all really embraced the alert system.”

“We get a lot of calls when alerts are posted and shared by the media and this new tool gives us that many more ‘eyes and ears’ in the field,” Gordon added. “Law enforcement cannot do this work alone. We are all in this together and updating technologies allows an engaged public additional tools that can significantly increase our chances for successful recoveries.”

Also in July, WSP and local law enforcement agencies implemented the Missing Indigenous Persons Alert (MIPA). MIPA has already been activated 17 times with 13 recoveries, three of which directly resulted from a member of the public seeing the alert.

Touting its success, WSP said that thus far in 2022 it has coordinated a total of 77 missing person alerts utilizing the Washington Missing Persons Alert System, including 5 Amber Alerts, 47 Silver Alerts, 8 Endangered Missing Persons Alerts, and 17 Missing Indigenous Person Alerts. Of the 77 alerts, there have been 70 successful recoveries and in at least 10 of those cases, law enforcement listed the alerts as essential to recovery.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs