Wisconsin State Assembly unanimously passes bipartisan bill to change alert system for missing children

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin State Assembly has unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that will change the way the public is notified when a child goes missing.

The bill is a victory for families of children who did not meet the amber alert criteria when they went missing in the Badger State.

The bill was brought before the Wisconsin State Assembly after nearly two years of parents and local organizations fighting to change what some consider to be strict guidelines for an Amber Alert. 

"If that alert just comes across for a child that's missing right away soon as they found out, I think it would save a lot of hurtful families, and it would save a lot of children," said Stacy Jones, grandmother of Prince McCree, a 5-year-old boy who was missing and found dead last fall.

Stacy Jones, the grandmother of Prince McCree, said she still remembers the joy her late grandson brought her.

"His charm, his spirit, he's uplifting," said Jones.

McCree went missing in the fall of 2023. The toddler was later found dead blocks away from his home a day after he went missing.

An Amber Alert never went out.

"It's very hurtful even with us not getting an amber alert, I understand the circumstances of it," said Jones.

McCree was not the only child to not receive an Amber Alert. 

Ten-year-old Lily Peters from Chippewa Falls also went missing back in the spring of 2022.

Her body was found ten hours after police were notified of her disappearance.

"These are children who cannot defend themselves and as a parent we are just asking for help and your hands are tied," said Eric Henry of Chippewa Falls.

Henry started a petition to change the Amber Alert guideline when Peters went missing, the petition got more than 50,000 signatures, now he's hopeful this latest move by state lawmakers can affect change.

Under current law, for an Amber Alert to be issued in Wisconsin, the child must be 17 years of age or younger, and there also must be a reasonable belief by law enforcement that the child was abducted-- in danger-- or police must have a description of a suspect or a vehicle.

Under the new Assembly bill, a Silver Alert could be issued for a missing person under 18 to whom an Amber Alert does not apply if the person is believed to be incapable of returning home without assistance due to a physical or mental condition or disability or if the person is under 10.

"It makes me feel good on one hand, like I'm excited it's getting notice on the other hand it breaks my," said Henry.

This is the second time lawmakers have tried to change Wisconsin's amber alert system, back in 2022, a petition with more than 50,000 signatures circulated to reform the system, that was after the death of 10-year-old lily peters.

This bill, having passed both houses, now moves to Governor Tony Evers' desk. 

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