Warner asks for information on implementing Ashanti Alerts

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WASHINGTON, (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new federal law based on a Virginia murder case will create a new alert for endangered adults.

Senator Mark Warner has asked Attorney General William Barr for an update regarding implementing the Ashanti Alert system.

The alerts can be issued for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18 and 64, a range that was not covered under Amber or Senior/Silver alerts.

The bill creating the alert system passed Congress with wide support from both sides of the aisle and was signed into law in December.

"It has now been more than two months since the Ashanti Alert Act was signed into law, and I continue to consult with stakeholders who are eager to make progress in implementing this new network so we can start saving lives," said Warner. "I remain strongly committed to the Ashanti Alert Act and plan to actively monitor its implementation to ensure that the department, law enforcement agencies, and relevant entities and stakeholders can work together to make the Ashanti Alert network as helpful and effective as possible."

The law instructed the Attorney General, now Barr, to select a national Ashanti Alert Coordinator who will be responsible for helping states establish alert systems and develop voluntary guidelines.

Under the law, this coordinator will also provide Congress with an annual report detailing the use and progress of the alerts in states.

Warner has specifically asked if the coordinator has been designated yet.

He also wants a timeline of planned achievements to establish the network and more information on the DOJ's strategy to solicit and incorporate input from subject matter experts, law enforcement agencies, and relevant federal agencies.

Warner is also asking about barrier or challenges that have been identified that could slow the implementation and how the DOJ plans to address them.

Finally, he wants to know what else Congress can do to assist in the efforts to create this alert system.

The Ashanti Alert Act was named for Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old woman who was abducted in Norfolk in September 2017 and whose body was found in North Carolina 11 days after she was reported missing.

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