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Missing-person alerts to be used

West Seneca will soon use a computer-assisted, GPS-based phone program to help inform the community when a person is reported missing, Police Chief Edward F. Gehen announced Monday.

Gehen said the program, which has become more popular nationwide, has been made possible by federal grants and is free for towns and municipalities to use.

"A Child Is Missing" alerts have been used to make 713 safe recoveries.

Gehen said the program will be used to help find children under 18 years old; elderly adults who may suffer from dementia ; or disabled persons who become lost. Once such cases are reported, the West Seneca Police Department can call A Child Is Missing Inc., the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based nonprofit organization that controls the program.

From there, the company logs descriptive information of the missing person, identifies a reasonable radius from where the person was last seen and sends calls to businesses and residents in that area. According to a program brochure, 1,000 or more automated calls can be made within minutes, and calls usually sound like this:

"We are currently searching for a missing child in your area. Her name is Jane Doe, a 3-year-old white female, 3-feet, 2-inches tall, 35 pounds with short brown hair. She was last seen wearing a white shirt and blue shorts at 100 Main Street. Call your local police department with any information at this listed number."

Gehen said that all currently listed landline numbers will receive such calls but that citizens with unlisted numbers or cell phones can get their numbers listed in the company's database.

When will the program be in effect?

"We've just got to train a few people, get everybody on board and then we'll be ready to go," Gehen said.

Also Monday, two residents told the Town Board they have had flooding problems on their property.

Ken Romance said that although he has three sump pumps, the water pressure in at least one is exceedingly strong. He also said that the water was so high that one man he spoke to had gotten water in his parked car.

"When it rains, it looks like a fire hose coming into my sump pump," he said.

Joan Solomon said she had already consulted Erie County about flooding in her driveway, and the county said it was due to construction in her neighborhood.

Because of these cases, another resident said the board should "strongly consider" imposing a moratorium on construction in the town.

Supervisor Wallace C. Piotrowski told both residents that the town engineer would follow up with them today.


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