ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — On Sunday night, a purple alert was issued for an endangered missing Escambia County woman. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was located safely, but what is a purple alert?

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida’s Purple Alert Plan was established by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on July 1, 2021, with an effective date of July 1, 2022.

The Florida Purple Alert is used to assist in the location of missing adults suffering from a mental or cognitive disability that is not Alzheimer’s disease or a dementia-related disorder; an intellectual disability or a developmental disability; a brain injury; other physical, mental or emotional disabilities that are not related to substance abuse; or a combination of any of these and whose disappearance poses a credible threat of immediate danger or seriously bodily harm. Purple Alerts engage the public in the search for the missing person and provide a standardized and coordinated community response.

What is the criteria for the Purple Alert?

  • The person is 18 years of age or older and does not qualify for a state level Silver Alert.
  • Has your investigation determined the missing person:
    • Has any combination of the following: an intellectual or developmental disability, brain injury; or another physical, mental, or emotional disability that is not related to substance abuse -and-
    • Does not have Alzheimer’s disease or a dementia related disorder?
  • Has your law enforcement agency’s investigation concluded that the disappearance poses a credible threat of immediate danger or serious bodily harm to the missing person and they can only be returned to safety through law enforcement intervention?
  • Is there a detailed description of the missing person suitable for distribution?
  • Has your agency entered the missing person into the Florida Crime Information Center (FCIC)?
  • Does the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction recommend activation?

Though the alert is used to locate those suffering from a mental or cognitive disability, the program does not have to have a physician verify if a person meets the criteria. According to FDLE, “How the local law enforcement agency verifies that the person meets the criteria for the Purple Alert is up to that agency’s policies. Families or caregivers of a missing person should inform law enforcement if there is reason to believe that the person meets the criteria.”

Residents can sign up to receive emails or text alerts when a Purple Alert is activated. For more information, visit the FDLE Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse website.