Valley leaders working to create regional Amber Alert system

When a child goes missing, it can take just minutes for an AMBER alert message to hit your inbox.

Silver alerts work much the same, except they focus on people suffering from illnesses like Alzheimer's and dementia - usually the elderly.

Now, Rep. Eddie Lucio III, wants to establish an alert system for everyone who falls in between those two groups.

"I didn't think that there was that big of a gap - until honestly this morning - of kids that qualify for AMBER," Lucio said. "I thought it was a pretty inclusive program, apparently it's not."

He's proposing an alert for the tri-county region including Cameron County, Willacy County and Hidalgo County.

Seventeen other regional alerts are already established across the Lone Star State.

"It's a tool, the intentions are to assist families, probably in their greatest time of need," Lucio said.

This issue became particularly important after former State Rep. Don Lee went missing from a nursing home in Harlingen, and was later found dead not far from the location.

"Their family went to try to get an alert sent out to see if they could locate him, and at the time he didn't meet that (Silver alert) criteria," Lucio said.

Criteria for the AMBER and Silver alerts are set by the state, but the region's alert criteria will be established by a committee of local law enforcement officials, allowing more room to report cases.

David Garcia was a Harlingen resident who suffered from seizures and left town on a bus headed north, without his medication.

His remains were discovered in Riviera several weeks later.

In the case of Tiffany Galvan, the teen didn't come home one night and was found later stabbed to death at a local park.

The proposed alert would have been used in their cases.

"We're going to try to organize law enforcement first, but one of the things we might be able to do is have a marketing campaign to get people to sign-up (to receive alerts)," Lucio said.

Lucio adds most of the law enforcement agencies in the Valley are on-board with the program and are willing to participate on a voluntary basis.

"We're going to do this because it's the right thing to do," Lucio said.