BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 535
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 2, 2013
          Chief Counsel:      Gregory Pagan


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                                 Tom Ammiano, Chair

                  AB 535 (Quirk) - As Introduced:  February 20, 2013
                       As Proposed to be Amended in Committee


           SUMMARY  :   Provides that for the activation of the Emergency  
          Alert System (EAS) an abductor may include a custodial parent or  
          guardian where the abducted child is in imminent danger of  
          serious bodily injury or death.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)States that if an abduction has been reported to a law  
            enforcement agency and the agency determines that a child 17  
            years of age or younger, or an individual with a proven mental  
            or physical disability, has been abducted and is in imminent  
            danger of serious bodily injury or death and there is  
            information available that, if disseminated to the general  
            public, could assist in the safe recovery of the victim, the  
            agency, shall request the activation of the EAS within the  
            appropriate local area.  [Government Code Section 8594(a).]

          2)Provides that California Highway Patrol (CHP) in consultation  
            with the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as a  
            representative from the California State Sheriffs'  
            Association, the California Police Chiefs' Association and the  
            California Police Officers' Association shall develop policies  
            and procedures providing instruction specifying how law  
            enforcement agencies, broadcasters participating in the EAS,  
            and where appropriate, other supplemental warning systems,  
            shall proceed after qualifying abduction has been reported to  
            a law enforcement agency.  [Government Code Section 8594(b).]

          3)Provides that in addition to the circumstances described under  
            existing law relating to "Amber Alerts", upon the request of  
            an authorized person at a law enforcement agency that is  
            investigating an offense, the CHP shall activate the EAS and  
            issue a blue alert if all of the following conditions are met:









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             a)   A law enforcement officer has been killed, suffers  
               serious bodily injury, or is assaulted with a deadly  
               weapon, and the suspect has fled the scene of the offense;

             b)   A law enforcement agency investigating the offense has  
               determined that the suspect poses an imminent threat to the  
               public or other law enforcement personnel;

             c)   A detailed description of the suspect's vehicle or  
               license plate is available for broadcast;

             d)   Public dissemination of available information may help  
               avert further harm or accelerate apprehension of the  
               suspect; and,

             e)   The CHP has been designated to use the federally  
               authorized EAS for the issuance of blue alerts.   
               [Government Code Section 8594.5 (b).]

          4)Defines a "Blue Alert" as a quick response system designed to  
            issue and coordinate alerts following an attack upon a law  
            enforcement officer, as specified.   [Government Code Section  
            8594.5 (a).]

          5)Provides that the blue alert system incorporates a variety of  
            notification resources and developing technologies that may be  
            tailored to the circumstances and geography of the underlying  
            attack.  The blue alert system shall utilize the  
            state-controlled EDIS, local digital signs, focused text, or  
            other technologies, as appropriate, in addition to the federal  
            EAS, if authorized and under conditions permitted by the  
            federal government.  [Government Code Section 8594.5(c).]

          6)Defines a "Silver Alert" as a notification system, that can be  
            activated as specified, and is designed to issue and  
            coordinate alerts with respect to a person 65 years of age or  
            older who is reported missing.  [Government Code Section  
            8594.10(a).]

          7)States that a law enforcement agency may request a Silver  
            Alert be activated if that agency determines that all of the  
            following conditions are met in regard to the investigation of  
            the missing person:

             a)   The missing person is 65 years of age or older.








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             b)   The investigating law enforcement agency has utilized  
               all available local resources.

             c)   The law enforcement agency determines that that the  
               person has gone missing under unexplained or suspicious  
               circumstances.

             d)   The law enforcement agency believes that the person is  
               in danger because of age, health, mental or physical  
               disability, environment or weather conditions, that the  
               person is in the company of a potentially dangerous person,  
               or there are other factors indicating that the person may  
               be in peril.

             e)   There is information available that, if disseminated to  
               the public, could assist in the safe recovery of the  
               missing person.  [Government Code Section 8594.10(c).]

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, "According to  
            the US Department of Justice, 800,000 children are reported  
            missing every year in the US. An estimated 200,000 are  
            abducted by a family member.  No parent ever wants to have to  
            report a missing child.  However, when such action is needed,  
            quick and coordinated response by law enforcement can help to  
            safely return the child. 

          "According to the DOJ, 75% of children who are abducted and  
            later found murdered were killed within three hours of being  
            abducted.  As such, quick response is critical in the safe  
            return of children. 

          "The Amber Alert system has been a powerful tool is helping law  
            enforcement to safely and quickly recover abducted children. 

          "However, there is a discrepancy in current law that needs to be  
            addressed.  There is disagreement if, all other factors  
            considered, an AMBER Alert can be issued if the abductor is a  
            parent or guardian.  The relationship between the child and  
            the abductor should not be an inhibiting factor if there is  
            reason to believe that the child's life is at risk. "








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           2)Background  :  An "Amber Alert" is issued upon the suspicion  
            that a child was abducted.  The AMBER Alert system started in  
            1996 after the abduction and murder of nine-year old Amber  
            Hagerman from Arlington, Texas.  Dallas-Fort Worth  
            broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early  
            warning system to help find abducted children.

          "AMBER" stands for America's Missing Broadcast Emergency  
            Response.

          The Child Alert Foundation created the first fully automated  
            Alert Notification System (ANS) in 1998 to notify surrounding  
            communities when a child was reported missing or abducted. 

          By 2002, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children  
            (NCME) expanded its role in promoting the AMBER Alert; the  
            Federal Communications Commission officially endorsed the  
            system; and California established a state-wide AMBER Alert  
            system.  By 2005, all 50 states had operational programs.  The  
            US Department of Justice (US DOJ) continues to look for ways  
            to improve the AMBER Alert program to increase success in the  
            recovery of abducted children.

          According to the DOJ, 75% of children who are abducted and later  
            found murdered were killed within three hours of being  
            abducted.  As such, quick response is critical in the safe  
            return of children.  Since 2002, the CHP has activated 205  
            alerts, resulting in the safe return of 244 victims.  

          However, there is ambiguity as to whether or not an AMBER Alert  
            may be activated if the abduction of a child was done by a  
            parent or guardian.  Such was the tragic 2005 case of Jineva  
            Driscol.  Her mother, Mary Alicia Driscol, drove her from  
            their home in Contra Costa County to Sonoma County.  Despite  
            Jineva's mother informing family of her intent to kill herself  
            and her child, no AMBER Alert was issued.  Jineva and her  
            mother were found dead on the side of the road in an apparent  
            murder-suicide.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle,  
            despite this case meeting all of the other criteria for  
            issuing an AMBER Alert, the CHP decided against it because  
            abduction had not occurred since Mary had sold custody of  
            Jineva.

          In 2012, Christopher Maffei showed up to his former girlfriend's  








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            home and ran off with their three-year old daughter and  
            six-year old son.  The children were safely rescued after the  
            boat Christopher had stolen from the Ballena Isle Marina in  
            Alameda was spotted by a fisherman about 50 miles off the  
            coast of Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay.  An AMBER Alert was  
            not issued because he was a "parent with no legal restrictions  
            against having the children."  (See San Francisco Chronicle  
            article, "Kids recovered after abduction, police say.")

           3)Argument in Support  :  The  Alameda County District Attorney   
            writes,"Current law under Government Code section 8594 allows  
            the activation of the Emergency Alert System known as the  
            AMBER Alert when law enforcement agencies are informed of the  
            abduction of a child 17 years of age or younger, or an  
            individual with a proven mental or physical disability is  
            determined to be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury  
            or death.

          "Currently, the law is ambiguous as to whether nor not AMBER  
            alert should be activated if a child's parent or guardian  
            takes the child away in a vehicle with the intent to cause  
            serious bodily injury or death to the child.

          "Because the language of the code specifically states an  
            'abduction' must have been reported to Law Enforcement, a  
            parent or guardian taking their child in a vehicle with the  
            intent to kill their child, may not constitute an 'abduction'  
            for the purpose of AMBER Alert System activation criteria.   
            The same may be true for a non-custodial parent with  
            visitation rights.

          "California Government Code 8594(a) should be amended such that  
            the AMBER Alert system may be activated when law enforcement  
            has credible information to believe anyone, including a parent  
            who has full custody of a child, takes the child away in a  
            vehicle with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or  
            death to that child."

           4)Prior Legislation  :

             a)   SB 1047 (Alquist), Chapter 651, Statutes of 2012,  
               authorized a law enforcement agency to request CHP to  
               activate a "Silver Alert" if a person 65 years of age or  
               older is missing.









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             b)   SB 839 (Runner), Chapter 311, Statutes of 2010, required  
               the CHP, at the request of an authorized person at a law  
               enforcement agency, to activate the EAS and issue a "Blue  
               Alert", as defined, if a law enforcement officer has been  
               killed, suffers serious bodily injury, or is assaulted with  
               a deadly weapon, the suspect has fled the scene of the  
               offense, and other specified conditions are met.

             c)   SB 38 (Alquist), of the 2009-2010 Legislative Session,  
               would have authorized a law enforcement agency to request  
               the CHP to activate the EAS and issue a "Silver Alert" if a  
               person 65 years of age or older is missing. SB 38 was held  
               on the Assembly Appropriations Committee's Suspense File.

             d)   AB 415 (Runner), Chapter 517, Statutes of 2002, required  
               law enforcement to activate the EAS and issue an "Amber  
               Alert" to assist recovery efforts in child abduction cases  
               by disseminating Information to the general public. 

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Alameda County District Attorney (Sponsor)
          Alameda County Board of Supervisors
          California Police Chiefs Association
          Klass Kids Foundation
          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter
          Peace Officer Research Association of California
          Polly Klass Foundation

           Opposition 
           
          None

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gregory Pagan / PUB. S. / (916)  
          319-3744