Officials to discuss 'Lily Alert' petition seeking legislative changes to Amber Alert system
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A petition created by a Chippewa Falls man calling for changes to the state's missing children's system has been answered by lawmakers.
On Thursday, officials will meet in Chippewa Falls to consider legislative solutions to ease the state's requirements when law enforcement issues an Amber Alert for a missing child.
The meeting comes after Eric Henry, a resident of Chippewa Falls, created the "Lily Alert" petition days following the tragic death of 10-year-old Lily Peters in late April.
Peters was reported missing on April 24, the next day her body was found in the woods over 10 hours after police were notified of her disappearance. Law enforcement was unable to issue an Amber Alert because Peters didn't fit the Wisconsin Department of Justice strict requirements.
Henry said he was invited to attend the 2 p.m. meeting with Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm and officials with the DOJ to evaluate protocols when children go missing.
It's the first time all parties will meet to discuss the "Lily Alert" proposal, which Henry called progress.
"It's super exciting and I'm hopeful, but until actual change is made I don't feel I have done enough," said Henry.
State Rep. Jesse James (R-Altoona) is part of a group of lawmakers from Chippewa County who are interested in drafting legislation to loosen restrictions on missing child alerts. James, a Cadott Police police officer, said he thinks there could be a better system in place.
"Being a cop, I think having this tool available is something that could be done and used for future potential missing children cases," said James. “It’s common sense legislation. It makes sense. Why not bring an additional tool to our children.”
Henry's petition has now grown to nearly 200,000 signatures since it was launched on April 26th, two days after Peters was reported missing.
"There's too many kids slipping through the cracks," said Henry. "As a parent, I can't imagine something more couldn't have been done."
In order for a Wisconsin's Amber Alert to go into effect, the child must be under 18 years old, in danger of serious harm or death and the reporting agency must have enough information about the child, suspect or vehicle believed to be involved.
During Peters’ disappearance, law enforcement did not have enough information about a possible suspect.
Investigators in May revealed a 14-year-old suspect, who is currently being held on $1 million cash bond.