COLORADO, USA — If an Indigenous person goes missing in Colorado, the state will send out a specific alert. The new system went live on Friday thanks to a law signed in 2022.
SB 22-150 expanded the investigation into cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people, and created the Missing Indigenous Person Alert (MIPA) through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
A request for a MIPA must come from police. The law also requires a law enforcement agency that receives a report of a missing Indigenous person to tell CBI within eight hours if it involves an adult, or within two hours for a missing child.
The Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives Taskforce of Colorado pushed for this legislation. Raven Payment, a member, hopes the new alert will save lives.
"When we do face violence or do go missing, we are not treated either fairly by law enforcement or they don't even understand how to approach a family or a community in a respectful way," Payment said.
When CBI activates an alert, police statewide will be notified. A message will also be sent to media, and CBI will work with CDOT to put messages over highways.
"Time is of the essence when a person goes missing, and the more time goes by, the less likely you are to find good evidence or find that person alive," Payment said.
National data shows four out of five Indigenous people in the U.S. have experienced a violent crime. Payment believes this new program will solve cases, but hopes it never has to be used.
"Fully knowing that when the alert is finally used, that means that someone is missing," she said.
If the incident involves an abducted Indigenous child, a statewide AMBER alert will be issued instead.
Colorado is the second state to offer an alert for missing Indigenous persons. Washington was the first.
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