EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – Attorney General Brad Schimel announced today that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), also known as a “drone,” was used to locate a missing person on Tuesday, August 28 after a DOJ Silver Alert was issued for a 68 year old Osseo man.
“Previously, if a person had gone missing in a field or large rural area, many hours and personnel resources would have been used to search the areas,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “Thanks to quick thinking by the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office, and DCI’s UAV pilot, law enforcement was able to quickly find this missing individual.”
A DOJ Silver Alert was issued a missing 68 year old man from Osseo, and the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office requested the DCI UAV be in Eau Claire County to assist with the search. A DCI special agent used the UAV to search the fields near the missing person’s residence. The UAV footage allowed the special agent to see the missing man walking in the middle of a field, and direct local law enforcement to retrieve the man from the field.
“Deputies searched for the subject during the evening but were unable to locate the missing person due to darkness and fog,” said Eau Claire County Undersheriff Joel Brettingen. “After daylight, the sheriff’s office utilized their UAV and also requested the assistance of DCI’s UAV due to its thermal imaging capabilities. This incident highlights the importance of our strategic partnership with DOJ’s DCI, and having access to technology that has been an extremely valuable asset for serving our community.”
Since the Silver Alert program was implemented in August 2014, 266 alerts have been issued. This is the first known success story in Wisconsin where a UAV played a role in successfully finding a missing person after a Silver Alert was issued. Twice, Wisconsin Department of Transportation dynamic messaging signs on highways have played a role in in a successful Silver Alert recovery. The Wisconsin Lottery has also been a key partner in the Silver Alert program’s success by displaying Silver Alerts on lottery display terminals throughout Wisconsin to both clerks and customers. Multiple Silver Alert success stories have resulted from alerts being displayed on lottery terminals.
The Silver Alert program, made possible after the enactment of 2013 Wisconsin Act 264, notifies the public when an adult with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other permanent cognitive impairment is missing. The program is administered by the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation. Silver Alerts are issued when the following criteria are met:
- The missing person is 60 years of age or older;
- The missing person is believed to have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another permanent cognitive impairment that poses a threat to the individual’s health and safety;
- There is reasonable belief that the missing person’s disappearance is due to the individual’s impaired cognitive condition;
- The Silver Alert request is made within 72 hours of the individual’s disappearance;
- There is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the missing person.
Individuals can sign up to receive Silver Alerts at www.wisconsincrimealert.gov