Five months after launch, officials say statewide "Silver Alert" program is a success

GERMANTOWN (WITI) -- In August 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Justice launched the statewide "Silver Alert" program. Since its launch, it has saved the lives of about 15 seniors.

On January 2nd, 2015, Germantown police found an 80-year-old man laying in a farm field. He had gone missing about eight hours earlier. His panicked wife called police for help.

"He had an injury and then he was taken to the hospital to get medically cleared," Germantown Police Lt. Todd Grenier said.

Had this incident occurred in January 2014, police say the outcome could have been much worse. That's because the Silver Alert program was not yet in effect.

"I think things would have been very different. He most likely would have, because of the cold weather, he may have passed away due to the extreme weather because he was not able to move at that point," Lt. Grenier said.

Similar to an Amber Alert, Silver Alerts go out by email, text message, or fax through the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network to notify the public that an adult over the age of 60 with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other permanent cognitive impairment is missing.

According to the Silver Alert program's coordinator, since the program started in August 2014, 18 Silver Alerts have been issued. That includes the Silver Alert issued for 80-year-old Ted Raske in Germantown.

Fifteen of those 18 alerts ended with the missing person being reunited with their loved ones. One of the Silver Alerts ended with the person being found dead, and two people remain missing.

We're told the average amount of time between when someone goes missing and when they're found safe is about 16 hours.

In the case of Ted Raske in Germantown, we're told the Silver Alert combined with the use of social media may have made all the difference.

"It went very well. I mean, instead of having, you know, just our officers looking for him, we have, you know, whoever views social media and the Silver Alert program. We have hundreds up to thousands of people looking for this individual, so it does make our efforts a lot easier," Lt. Greiner said.

CLICK HERE to sign up to receive Silver Alerts (or Amber Alerts) from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.