Bill Refiled Making It Easier To Track Missing People With Special Needs

Aug 5, 2015

Leo Walker, the young boy who went missing last year and inspired legislation to help those with special needs.
Credit FDLE

A Florida lawmaker has refiled a measure making it easier for law enforcement to track missing people with special needs.

Last year, a young boy went missing.

“Frantic searches took place,” said Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams. “Three days later, we found the young man.”

Williams recalls the search and rescue efforts for Leo, a young boy with autism. Officials later found him dead in a body of water.

He says if authorities had access to technological advances—like a GPS tracking device—it would have done wonders in the search for the autistic boy.

“They’re not that expensive,” added Williams. “I mean, if you’re talking a $39 or $59 a month monitoring fee. I know that in the three-day search for Leo Walker here in my city, millions of dollars were expended. How many people could have that have saved had this technology been available and readily available to lower income families and people with disabilities?”

Williams is championing renewed efforts of Rep. Elizabeth Porter (R-Lake City) to start a pilot project in four North Central Florida counties, which would include the police chief’s area.

The GPS-like technology can be used to help find people with disabilities as well as older adults prone to wondering off.

The measure died during this past legislative session, but Williams says he’s hopeful it’ll pass next year.

“…because this is something that’s near and dear to me,” continued Williams. “I too have a disabled child. She’s 19 years of age, although she doesn’t have autism. She has Angelman Syndrome and some of those children are elopers too. I have been on the other side of this also to where she’s left a certain location and we couldn’t find her. And, I can tell you there’s no more panic, there’s no more fear that any parent or any caretaker will ever experience until you can’t find someone who truly can’t communicate.”

If the measure becomes law, Williams hopes it will grow into a statewide and even federal movements.

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