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Ashanti Alert Act Webinar

Speakers
Michael Costigan, Acting Director, BJA; David Lewis, Senior Policy Advisor, BJA; Michael J. Muhammad, Activist/Family Advocate; Sergeant Christina T. Williams, Virginia State Police

During this July 23, 2020 webinar, BJA and other personnel provided background information about the Ashanti Alert Act and the Ashanti Alert Pilot Project. The presenters shared how the pilot program will work and discussed the plans that agencies may need to develop to become part of the National Ashanti Alert Network, which is a national notification system for missing or endangered individuals between the ages of 18 and 64.

Visit the National Ashanti Alert Network section of the BJA site to learn more about this effort.

View the transcript or read it below:

Welcome everyone to the Bureau of Justice Assistance webinar. Our topic today is the Ashanti Alert Act, a national tool to assist finding missing adults aged 18 to 64. Presenting today's webinar is a variety of individuals from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Department of Justice, and the Virginia State Police. My name is Jason Sterling and I'll be your moderator for today. And with that, I'd like to introduce our first presenter for the day. Michael Costigan is the acting director for the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Mr. Costigan, I'll turn it over to you.

Great, thank you very much. And welcome everyone. I'm so happy we were able to get together even if it had to be in kind of a virtual format. I really looked forward to seeing everybody, but I'm glad we could pull this together because this is a very important topic.

I would like to start by welcoming you all on behalf of our Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katie Sullivan who couldn't be here today. I'm sure as you folks turn on the evening news every night you're seeing a lot of things related to law enforcement, and the White House, and executive orders. So unfortunately, that has overwhelmed her. And she couldn't join us today. But she is a big supporter of this and is eager to work with each of the states to make the National Ashanti Alert Network a reality.

Today we're going to go over briefly the act and provide information on its requirements, reporting, and specifically how BJA will provide training and technical assistance. You will hear from Mr. Michael Muhammad who I'm grateful for joining us today. He's been representing the Ashanti Billie family. Mr. Muhammad will share why the Ashanti Alert Act was passed in the first place and the importance it will play in assisting law enforcement in finding missing adults. You will also hear from Sergeant Christina Williams from the Virginia State Police about the Ashanti Alert for Abducted Adults Plan.

I want to give a little bit of a shout out to the Virginia State Police. As someone who's worked for a couple of Virginia governors on public safety issues and worked closely with the Virginia State Police, I'm very happy to have their involvement and guidance. They do a great job and I know they can help every state become successful in this effort. In addition to working with the states for the pilot program, we here at BJA will be working with the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, otherwise known as Global, which serves a federal advisory committee and advises the U.S. Attorney General on justice information, sharing, and integration initiatives.

Global is comprised of key personnel from local, state, tribal, federal, and international justice entities with the mission to identify efficient sharing methods for data and now, to support the Ashanti Alert Act. In 2018, the Bureau of Justice Assistance partnered with Global, as well as the COPS Office and INLETS, to develop a unified message highlighting the importance of nationwide alerts. This message defined the different types of alerts, stressed the important role that alerts play in law enforcement and communities, and describe the steps that are being taken to further enhance the alert process. Now BJA and Global are looking forward to adding Ashanti Alerts to this important unified message.

We at BJA recognize the dedicated and valuable work you all do on AMBER and Silver Alerts. We're excited that the Ashanti Alert can now fill the age gap between the Silver and AMBER Alerts. More details will be provided in this webinar and you will see how the expected pilot program will work and the plans that your agency may need to develop to become part of the National Ashanti Alert Network. I encourage all states to add Ashanti Alerts to existing systems as quickly as possible. In addition, we're hoping that some of you will join us as a pilot state to further develop and expand this important initiative.

Again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk to you today about this. We think this is an incredibly important initiative. It's taken a little time to put this together, but we're at a point now where we can actually begin to make a difference. I also want to encourage everybody, if at any time along the way, you have concerns, issues, need guidance, please feel free to reach out to BJA staff. We're fully invested in this, and we're eager to help. Thank you again for having me. And have a great day.

And now I'd like to turn the presentation over to Mr. Michael J Muhammad. So Michael, if you would like to pick up, that would be great. Thanks.

Thank you. Good afternoon, one and all. Thank you for this opportunity to participate in this amazing chapter in the process of the implementation of the Ashanti Alert, named for young Ashanti M. Billie who was tragically taken too soon in September of 2017 at the hands of a mentally ill former American soldier. Ashanti, the daughter of Meltony Billie and Ms. Brandy Billie, was a young woman who grew up with parents in military service. And as veterans, they sent their daughter off to college to the Virginia Arts Institute.

And while she was there she sought employment and though her father did not want her to work, he felt that her working on a military installation would provide her safety and security. Unfortunately, it was there that Ashanti met with her would be kidnapper and murderer. And for many days, the Billies, after having been notified of their daughter's having been missing, relocated to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where they knew very few people, and all they had to rely on were their friends and family from around the country.

I was referred to Ms. Billie. And she contacted me. We met. And upon our discussing her daughter's being missing, the details of her daughter's being missing in the early hours reminded me of several other cases that I have worked on in community before. And that was the difficulty of getting information out about missing persons and particularly missing Black women.

And so through that process, we began to navigate not only community but also began to navigate the process of the political tier. Knowing that this would be a major national issue because of the fact that it transpired on a military installation, we went to then United States Congressman, Scott Taylor. And upon meeting with Mr. Taylor on September the 25th, 2017 he immediately agreed to embrace the idea of the Ashanti Alert, or a missing adult alert that we had already asked to be named the Ashanti Alert. And when we met with him on September the 25th he went to work.

Shortly thereafter, in the month of November of 2017, we met with newly elected Virginia State Delegate, Jerrauld J Jones, who then championed the legislation on the Virginia State level taking it through both houses and then to the governor's desk and being implemented as the Critical Missing Adult Alert for persons 18 to 64. That model would've been used by the process that was already begun on the federal level in Congress.

And after successfully passing Congress one year after we met with Mr. Scott Taylor on September the 25th, 2018, the traction was picked up in the Senate by the Honorable Senator Mark Warner, who championed the Ashanti Alert and carried it through the Senate, even having to make some reformation, it was passed. And the beauty of this act is that in the short time from Ashanti's being missing in September of 2017, President Donald J Trump signed the Ashanti Alert Act into law on December the 31st, 2018 at 6:00 PM.

And that was during a very critical time as our government was shut down. So having a president and an administration that recognized the importance of addressing this gap that we identified of persons between the AMBER Alert and the Silver Alert, that 18 to 64 gap, was very important. It was also during this process that now Virginia State Delegate, then attorney representing the Billie family, Mr. Don Scott pointed out that there was a gap with the Native American community, the Indigenous community, in terms of their missing population. And we were then been able to work in conjunction with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas to include that Indigenous Protection in the Ashanti Alert.

And so utilizing the services of various people throughout the region and throughout the area, publicist Ms. Kim Winbish and others, Ms. Erin Carter out of Senator Mark Warner's office and so many others. We were able to build the community swell to push this idea from community through the legislative body of Virginia State and through the United States in a record time. And now we have this opportunity to serve lives and people.

I'll conclude by saying I was with Ms. Billie and Mr. Billie through this process. And I happened to be the only person with Ms. Billie when the FBI contacted her to inform, when they came to inform her of her daughter's passing. And that experience infused in me and in those around us the desire to press forward and to see this law implemented. And so today is a very monumental day, having suffered the loss of missing persons in my family, having worked with other families, and now the Ashanti Alert is law and being implemented.

The last thing that I will say, from the perspective of community and the importance of the Ashanti Alert, is that as an African American in this wonderful country of the United States of America, I can't help but to think that 400 years ago in Ghana the Ashanti people, who were boarded on ships and brought north or brought in a north manner and a westernly course and put in a servitude of slavery, I don't think it's coincidence that no one came to look for those missing persons. But 400 years later, Mr. and Ms. Billie birthed a beautiful young daughter and they named her Ashanti.

And her untimely death produces, at the anniversary of the 400 year anniversary of black people's sojourn in America, a system that says you have to look for missing people. And I think that that is an awesome, awesome expression of America, and the possibilities of America, and the greatness of working to build within the context of community and the political system, a unified front to bring about the necessary change.

So the Ashanti Alert Act has been a joy and we look forward to seeing it serve many, many, many lives to be saved in the years to come. Thank you.

Thank you Mr. Muhammad. Our next key speaker, it will be David Lewis, the senior policy advisor at BJA. Go ahead David.

Thank you Jason. I'd also like to thank Mr. Muhammad for that history. And I also want to echo the words of Director Costigan about that BJA is looking forward to making the National Ashanti Alert Network a reality. As Mr. Muhammad mentioned the President Trump signed the Ashanti Alert Act into law on December 30, 2018. And as you mentioned, and he gave a great background on, actually very informative on what actually happened to Ms. Billie. But also, all the steps that they took to make sure that they could get this act in place.

And an important thing I want to echo was what Mr. Muhammad said also was that it's actually filling a gap. Under the Ashanti Alert Act there are some very specific direction given to the U.S. Department of Justice. And it is to develop this, a National Communication Network, not only to do a national, but also the importance of assisting states, regional, and local efforts to find certain missing adults that, as we've mentioned, filling that particular gap. And as was already mentioned that it is an AMBER Alert is a certain age group. Then Ashanti filling this gap and then bringing us to the Silver Alert.

And we're very fortunate that we are actually going to move this forward, get the support of states, and make this information available across the United States. And that's a very important part of this particular act is that it's not only a national effort, but also to help from this possibly the smallest department to the largest departments. Now as I mentioned before, under the act there are some very specific definitions. And under the act it says that the Attorney General shall do the following.

And the very first is the importance of creating this National Communications Network. And the Attorney General identified the Office of Justice Programs to be the lead on this particular effort. And in turn, based on the Bureau of Justice Assistance, our history in creating national information sharing initiatives, we were selected to do the technology part, and also to serve as that liaison between the states, not only in creating technology issues, but also in dealing with assisting states to develop plans, do their due diligence that they need, to help create these particular efforts to identify missing adults.

Now it's also important that the systems also work off what's already in existence. In other words, the way that AMBER Alerts make their national communications, also the Silver Alert, and there's also one for the Blue Alert dealing for law enforcement. So we're not as many times people say don't reinvent the wheel. We are not reinventing the wheel but building on the capabilities that are already out there. What we're adding as part of this Ashanti work is that we're adding the ability to have some two-way communications between the states and us, as being the lead for this particular endeavor.

So we're really looking at that to enhance the way that we're sharing information. The other thing is, not only are there very specific guidance for the Attorney General, but also some annual required reporting elements. So as BJA and OJP are responsible for gathering this particular information and making this information available to Congress wanting to know about the status. And in this really the second bullet gives you the first foundation of some of the things where Congress wants to know the number of alerts that were issued, how many were located successfully.

And the other thing that they showed interest in was what is that time frame. How long does it take for the alert to be issued to get information back about that individual? Now the one thing that we have to add when we talk about this is also the importance of adding our Indian tribe areas because sometimes it's a forgotten area when it comes to collecting data. So they're a very integral part in collecting this information and making these national alerts available.
So the other thing is too is, we're hoping this and sometimes, as I mentioned, not only is this a local, regional, but also statewide. Some of the issues that we have is if we have particular information that an individual not only may be abducted in that particular immediate region, but also if they're crossing state lines. How do we get that information out there across that area to the right entities that can help activate those alerts in their state also? So the ways that we do this and this improved communication is an extremely effective, not only that we want to get that information out to our law enforcement officials, but also to the everyday families, caregivers, any officials, and other authoritative agency.

And the one thing about this particular act, and based on the age range that we're doing, and we'll talk about this a little bit further in the presentation here, is that between this age group they're individuals or adults, and they may they do have a right to be missing if they choose to, but if they don't choose to, and there is some criminal activity, that's one of the elements that goes into this investigation. And that's what ensures us that we get proper and correct information out there. Thank you.

Thanks David. Our next presenter is going to be Sergeant Christina Williams from the Virginia State Police. Christina?

Hello everyone. I'm going to go over the Ashanti Alert for the Virginia State Police. Go over the background of the alert, statutory authority, criteria, and the process in which to activate the alert. In summary the Virginia Ashanti Alert provides a valuable tool for Virginia law enforcement to assist in locating adults who have been abducted. It also allows broadcasters, Virginia Department of Transportation, and other partners an opportunity to contribute to the community in a extremely beneficial way. This plan is available to law enforcement agencies all over the state of Virginia and can be used as either their primary plan or a supplement to their existing plan.

In background, on the morning of September 18 of 2017, when Ashanti Billie did not show up for work at the Blimpie or for work at the culinary classes she attended at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach, her disappearance prompted a police investigation. During the investigation details revealed that Ashanti had been abducted on her way to work that morning. Unfortunately, at the time there was no alert in place for adults who had been abducted. As a result of this incident, Delegate Jerrauld J Jones began researching into the state's alert systems.

At the time of Ashanti's abduction, the state's alert system only dealt with three alerts: AMBER Alert, which dealt with children abducted under the age of 18; the Senior Alert, which alerts the public of missing seniors who are 60 years of age or older and who suffer from a cognitive impairment; the Blue Alert, which involves the injury or death of a law enforcement officer where the suspect has not been apprehended. On January 3, 2018, Delegate Jones introduced House Bill 260 the Virginia Critically Missing Adult Alert, which Governor Ralph Northam signed into law April 5, 2018.

In definition, the Ashanti Alert means an adult whose whereabouts are unknown, who is believed to have been abducted, who is 18 years of age or older, whose disappearance poses a credible threat as determined by law enforcement and to safety and health of the adult. Ashanti Agreement means a voluntary agreement between law enforcement officials and members of the media whereby an adult will be declared abducted, and the public will be notified, and includes all other incidental conditions of the partnership as found appropriate by the state police. Ashanti Alert means notice of an adult abduction provided to the public, by which media or other methods and under the Ashanti Alert agreement.

Ashanti Alert Program means procedures in Ashanti Alert agreements to aid in the identification and location of the critically missing adult. Media: media means print radio, television, and internet-based communication systems, or other methods of communicating information to the public. Statutory Authority 52-34-11 establishes the Virginia Critically Missing Adult Program. The Virginia State Police shall develop policies for the establishment of uniform standards for creation Critically Missing Adult Program throughout the commonwealth. 

The Virginia State Police shall inform local law enforcement officials of the policies and procedures to be used for the Critically Missing Adult Program. Assist in determining the geographic scope of particular critically missing adult alert, and establish procedures and standards by which local law enforcement shall verify that an adult is critically missing and shall report such information to the Virginia State Police. The establishment of the Critically Missing Adult Alert Program by local law enforcement agency and media is voluntary, and nothing in the chapter shall be construed to be mandate in local officials or the media establish or participate in the Critically Missing Adult Program.

52-34.12 activation of the Critically Missing Adult Program upon an incident of a critically missing adult. Upon receipt of a notice of a critically missing adult from law enforcement, the state police shall confirm the accuracy of the information. Critically missing adults may be a local, regional, or statewide. The initial decision to make the local critically missing adult shall be the discretion of the local law enforcement official. Prior to making a local critically missing adult, the local law enforcement official shall confer with the state police and provide information regarding the missing adult. The decision to make a regional or statewide Critically Missing Adult Alert shall be the discretion of the Virginia State Police.

The critically missing adult shall be canceled under the terms of the Critically Missing Adult Alert Agreement. Any local law enforcement agency that locates the missing adult, who is the subject of an alert, shall notify the state police immediately once the adult has been located. The major components of the Ashanti Alert System are Virginia Criminal Information Network, which is a telecommunication system which provides 24 hour access for Virginia law enforcement to enter and query criminal justice information including information regarding abduction or any matter dealing with missing persons.
Virginia Department of Transportation Message Boards and Highway Alert Radio, these systems are maintained by VDOT, electronic changeable message signs and radio systems that can be viewed by the public while using the highways in Virginia. Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse, the Clearinghouse has the ability to upload photographs and enter information regarding a lost adult on the Virginia Missing Persons website. Additionally, the Virginia Missing Person Clearinghouse uses the Everbridge Software to initiate mass messages to media and other partners.

The secondary components of the Ashanti Alert System are Public Utilities Communications System, which has the ability to send out broadcast to their employees all over the state of Virginia that an Ashanti Alert has been activated. Notification of Regional Plan Infrastructure, the coordinator of the regional Ashanti Alert Plan will enable regional plans to notify all those elements of their respective plans. Virginia Realtor's Association, notification of multiple listing services, which notifies Virginia realtors when an Ashanti Alert has been activated. The Virginia Lottery has the ability to set a scroll on all the lottery machines. The marquee used will notify lottery customers of an active Ashanti Alert, the location, and customers can tune in to the www.virginiasenioralert.com for more details. As well as DMV can set a message which would be programmed into their Q-Flow queuing system. And will display on TV screens in 73 customer service centers.

The criteria for the Ashanti Alert is as follows: the adult must be 18 years or older, and the law enforcement agency believes that the adult has been abducted. The law enforcement agency believes the adult is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. A law enforcement investigation has taken place to eliminate any alternative explanations. Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the adult, the suspect, and/or a suspect's vehicle.

The adult must be entered into the Virginia Criminal Information Network and the National Crime Information Center missing persons files. And the Virginia Ashanti Alert form authorization of release information must be signed. And if all of the above criteria are not met, then the Virginia Ashanti Alert will not be activated.

Law Enforcement Agency Requests Process. The following requirements must be met by the requesting agencies. Meeting established requirements will enable the most effective Ashanti Alert activation. They're requested to enter the information into the VCIN/NCIC systems and making sure that they packed the record with all pertinent information that will help them with any hits in reference to the suspect, have at least one individual designated as the reporting officer, use the criteria as delineated in the flowchart to determine whether to activate the alert plan, and provide updates as frequently as possible to the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse.

Also, have an assigned telephone number capable of rolling over to at least two separate lines to take telephone calls once the plan has been activated, have volunteers or personnel receive the telephone calls minimum of 24 hours once the plan is activated and until it's canceled, submit the required information through the Virginia Ashanti Alert activation website to the Virginia Missing Person Clearinghouse immediately upon the initiation of the abduction investigation as investigation is developing, submit a recent photograph of the missing adult in JPEG format to the Virginia State Police Duty Sergeant at the dutysergean[email protected] email address, and use the termination script in the event that the incident is terminated before the 12 hour cycle.

The activation process for the alert will only be initiated through the Virginia State Police. Once the contacted agency receives a report that an adult has been abducted the following process should be followed. They will confirm that an alert has taken place and the criteria has been met. The information submitted through the Ashanti Alert website will be verified with the investigating agency. If the website is unavailable, Virginia Ashanti Alert activation forms or equivalent regional planning forms contain the required information as set forth in the Virginia Ashanti Alert Plan will be submitted by fax or by email and include a current photograph of the missing adult. And that will be emailed to again, the Duty Sergeant's email address.

Also they will send the forms to the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse by fax or email. Contact the Clearinghouse immediately confirming receipt of the packet information or if you should have difficulty submitting information. Designate a department contact for the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse. Include the name and telephone number on the standardized fax form. Local law enforcement agencies must follow intra-departmental policy regarding actual investigation process involving any abducted or kidnapped adult incidents which takes place within their jurisdictions, making sure that a current photograph is available in forwarding it along with a copy of all abduction details or summaries to the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse at the email address [email protected] And contact telephone number is 804-674-2026. And fax is 804-6746704.

After being contacted by the reporting agency, Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse will conduct the required tasks as outlined in this plan and confirm receipt of the Virginia Ashanti Alert information with the reporting agency. After being contacted, the Virginia State Police will contact any broadcaster companies through the Everbridge Software. The Virginia State Police may provide supplemental information with a detailed summary of the adult abduction and forward a copy of the adult to the broadcasting companies. The above information steps provide an efficient and streamlined approach to disseminate detailed information regarding a critically missing adult whose life may be in danger. The goal of the notification process is to be quick, clear, concise, uncluttered, and effective.

Local law enforcement agencies' responsibilities and procedures, prior to activation of the Ashanti Alert, Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse shall be contacted with the required information to activate the Ashanti Alert Plan. The requesting agency will submit updated information and notify the Virginia Missing Person Clearinghouse of the recovery of the adult if prior to cancellation. After local law enforcement officials determine an abduction has taken place, they should refer to the Ashanti Alert flowchart. If yes, notify the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse immediately and Virginia State Police Administrative Headquarters to provide them with required information by fax or by email.

Local law enforcement agencies' responsibilities and procedures, additionally the law enforcement agencies should do the following, as additional information presents itself, including photographs, the agency shall contact the Missing Person Clearinghouse immediately with updates so that can be disseminated to the public. Upon closure of the abduction case, immediately notify the Missing Persons Clearinghouse. And the prompt broadcasting of the abduction is an integral part of Virginia Ashanti Alert Plan and the statewide Adult Protection Plan. And if it saves the life of one adult, it's well worth the participation.

Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse responsibilities and procedures--the following procedure is to be used if a regional plan has been activated prior to the request for the activation of the Virginia Ashanti Alert Plan. Upon notification that the regional plan has been activated, the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse shall contact the investigating agency and obtain the required information needed to activate the Ashanti Alert. Virginia Missing Person Clearinghouse shall initiate required steps to obtain approval as specified below to implement the Virginia Ashanti Alert or eliminate a delay in the implementation of the alert by the investigating agency.

The following procedures to be used in the Virginia Ashanti Alert Plan is being used as a primary plan upon receiving a call from a law enforcement agency to activate the Virginia Ashanti Alert, the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse will review the information submitted through the alert website. The Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse shall verify that the use of the Ashanti Alert is justified and will assist the local law enforcement agency with drafting of the Ashanti Alert broadcast. The Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse will immediately notify the CJIS/VCIN First Sergeant, VCIN Administrative Sergeant, or VCIN Lieutenant who will evaluate the request and determine if a Virginia Ashanti Alert should be activated. The VCIN First Sergeant, or Administrative Sergeant, or Lieutenant will then notify the Duty Sergeant of the decision.

The CJIS Captain and the Executive Staff will then be notified by email of the activation. Supervision will then direct the Duty Sergeant to have the VCIN Control Center submit an Ashanti Alert through the VCIN network, activate either statewide or regional basis, and activate the Virginia Department of Transportation communication system. Supervision will then ensure that the missing adult is posted on the Virginia Missing Persons website. Upon activation of the Virginia Ashanti Alert, the Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse website will activate the Emergency Alert System to broadcast email notices to media and other partners.

When an Ashanti Alert is activated, the CJIS division will assist with phone calls from the media. The Missing Persons Clearinghouse will send a VCIN message to Virginia criminal justice agencies notifying them that the Ashanti Alert has been activated and for them to anticipate increase in 911 telephone traffic. The Missing Persons Clearinghouse will coordinate with the agency to determine if assistance is needed in the production of missing persons posters. The Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse will notify other surrounding states that Virginia has activated the Virginia Ashanti Alert Plan and provide them with alert information.

Law enforcement agencies are to contact the Missing Persons Clearinghouse immediately if the victim is located or if the alert should be canceled for any other reason. After receiving this information, the Missing Persons Clearinghouse will issue a VCIN cancellation message advising that the alert has been canceled. If the adult was located, the message will advise the Virginia Ashanti Alert has been canceled and adult located. Ashanti Alerts are generally approved for 12 hour activation unless new leads come in, at which time the alert would be extended. Virginia Missing Persons Clearinghouse will issue a VCIN cancellation message advising the Ashanti Alert has expired if it exceeds the 12 hours with no updates.

This is the decision flow charts that we advise the agencies to go by prior to requesting their alert. And it basically states the questions to the left, is the missing adult 18 years or older? And if yes, is the incident an abduction or kidnapping? And if yes, has an investigation been conducted to verify the abduction? And was the adult information entered into the VCIN/NCIC system? And is the adult in danger of serious bodily harm or death? And is there sufficient information available to disseminate to the public to aid in the location of the missing person and the suspect? And if all of those are answered yes, then we can activate the Virginia Ashanti Alert.

And this is the beginning of the forms that the agency would fill out. And it basically states the date of the abduction, date and time, location, direction of travel if that is known, and also vehicle description if a vehicle was used, and if they had that information, so make, model, color of vehicle, license plate information, and the adults information that has been abducted. Then you'll have the gender, approximate age or age, race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, what type of clothing the missing adult was wearing.

And then on page two would be the abductors information. They would ask for the same: age, race, height, weight, hair, physical descriptors, clothing that they might have been wearing, and any additional details. And at the bottom would be the reporting agency's information, contact person, and telephone number. And we also ask that the family sign a release of information. And this just basically releases the Virginia State Police of any liability of disseminating information with means to help in locating the missing adult.

And the Ashanti Alert Activation fax form, this would be the reporting agency, the officer's name. And it states that the alert will last for a period of 12 hours. And then they would put the name and phone number of the agency. And the termination fax, this would be the form that we would need to
terminate the fax, or terminate the alert, if the alert is terminated before the 12 hours if the adult is located, or if it has expired. And they'll just put the terminating agency and officer and again, the name and number.

And this is the VCIN template that we use to send to our VCIN office. And it's also the template we use to build our Google Docs to place on the public missing, or the Senior Alert website for the Ashanti Alert. And this would basically be, the Virginia State Police has issued an Ashanti Alert on behalf of the reporting agency at this date, this time. And the reporting department is looking for the missing adults name. And it has race, sex, age, height, weight, and descriptors: eye, hair, and the subject, our missing adult was last seen wearing. And the missing adult is believed to have been abducted and is in danger, and were last seen on this day at this time, and then which location they were abducted from.

And the missing adult is believed to be with, and here's where we would put the abductors information. And it would also have their descriptors: race, sex, age, height, weight, and hair and eye color, and what they were last seen wearing. And then, they are believed to be traveling in, and if it had vehicle information, and if we have a tag number we would put that there, and a possibility of direction of travel. And then at the bottom we put, please contact, and it would be the reporting agency's information and contact telephone number. And at the very bottom, you can find complete information that would direct them to go to the Virginia Senior Alert website for more information on the Ashanti Alert.

And this is our Google Docs that we use. And this is our instruction page. But basically, the template that we have the left side of the template would be where the missing adult's current photograph would go. And then it would say Ashanti Alert in red bold letters. And then we would put in their first, middle, and last name, the missing adult's age, sex, race, hair, eye color, height, weight, and missing from what locality, and what date they went missing.

And then the template that I showed you earlier, we would basically copy and paste that below that information so that it would have all of the descriptors of the incident and all of the information for the reporting agency. And once all of that is filled out it will migrate to our Virginia Public Senior Alert website. And at that time they would be able to go on the public website. And all of that information would migrate to this point. So instead of it saying Virginia has no alerts at this time, it would have all that information there for the missing adult.

And along with the adult that's missing, it would also incorporate the abductor's photo. We could copy and paste that and a possibility of vehicle information. And if need be we can use either actual vehicle photo, or we could use a photo from the internet to show make and model, color of a vehicle, and what type of vehicle for the public to be looking for. And so far since the alert has been implemented in 2018, we've actually initiated five, or activated five alerts in the year 2018 once it was implemented. And we issued five more alerts in the year 2019. And out of the 10 alerts, four of those adults were located, and found safe, and brought back to their families safely. So it's definitely been a good thing to have this alert in progress.

This is David Lewis again from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. And what I wanted to do is actually go over one of the things that we're trying to do here as part of the Bureau of Justice Assistance in bringing this forward is we're implementing a Alert Pilot Program. And what the Bureau of Justice Assistance has done is they're working in conjunction and partnership with the information sharing systems, the risk program. And we're working with them to help in developing this two-way communication that's necessary. And as you heard, our Virginia gives their overview.

And we have realized this we started down this path that many states may have alerts that they're doing very similar to Ashanti dealing with people within that particular age group. But what we're trying to do is those are usually limited to what can happen within their state. What we're trying to do is make this a national alerting system. And it's also when you're doing some of the regular alerts, you're putting that information out. But we're not always getting information back. So that's the reason that we're doing this pilot program to see how we can bridge all those different things.

So as I mentioned, the BJA and RISS will help develop this national network. Now please, don't confuse what we're trying to do here with already that's being implemented on ways that people are already doing their alerts the ones that come on the phone and what happens in their states and so forth. What this is more of getting the states to work together. So we could do, as I mentioned earlier, so we can do this and I'll use this example. And this is one that I've used in some of the discussions that we've had. For example, if somebody is believed abducted and there needs to be the Ashanti Alert in Virginia, and the information that they get, that that individual may be taking that the abducted person to Florida.

So having this communication network between the leads in all the states would allow for that state to create a packet of all the information that Sergeant Williams had mentioned about photo information, they've done the investigation, all those kind of things and being able to kind of identify and move it to the next state. And say, okay, here's what we have can you implement the alert in your state? So what we see this too as a possibility, is the state could look at say Virginia could look at a map, and say, okay, I want to identify all the states from Virginia to Florida. So it would be Virginia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and so forth.

That they could do that and in one click, send that information out, be evaluated by each of the states, and then they could do that notification in their state. And all the things very similar to what that states are already doing. That might be things about using the highway signs, or the lottery things, and all those different kind of things. And as I mentioned, we know that states that most likely have or are already doing something in their state that may be addressing this already. So we're hoping, as we develop this pilot program, that this will become the foundation to help other states onboard to this notification system. And really, it's the sharing of information, not just from the notification, but the sharing of information.

What we're doing as part of this program is the actual use of technical assistance. And when we talk about technical assistance sorry, we talk about technical assistance, we're looking at, as we mentioned, we talked risk. But risk has a technical group called the Risk Technical Support Center, the RTSC. And they also work with a group called the Institute for Intergovernmental Research. And those individuals not only can look at a technical solution, but also, as we start new programs and we help those things, we look at what are the elements that have to be part of this project as moving forward.

Now one of the things that why we've chosen to work with the RISS Center's the fact that there is six RISS Centers nationwide, each providing resources to law enforcement, public safety entities when it comes to information sharing and utilizing they already have a national secure network. So some of the technical assistance that we're talking about, just as we said that as you begin a new program, you may need to have a policy. You may need some technical assistance.

How do I take what I'm doing in my state, be able to package it, send it to somebody else, and do that communication? How can I connect with the way that I'm doing things in my state to some other state? We're looking at the possibility say states might need some assistance on a software or hardware. They might need to help facilitate this information and actually share this information.

And one of the other things that we're really interested in is helping and providing the education of the community. What is an Ashanti Alert? What is the alert for a missing adult at this particular age bracket? So we know officers will be out there doing presentations. We'll have people asking questions. We'll have information on state web sites or Attorney General websites. And so how do we make that communication and community awareness literature available?

We know that programs and budgets are very tight. So we look at how we can have this literature readily available. We can also provide, as I mentioned about policy development, if I want to again, we're not actually asking you to change the way you do business in your particular state. But if you want to create something that's part of Ashanti Plan or fall in line with Ashanti Plan, and somebody asks, what do I need to do this? We have a guideline for you to actually do this.

Also it's very important for us again, you have a responsibility. Each of the states have a responsibility for making those notifications across your state. But as you move from state to state, additional areas, regional or national, how do we share that information? What's the requirements for that? So it's important that we acknowledge, also here at the Bureau of Justice Assistance and our technical advisors, that we know who that contact person is from each of those states. So gathering that information is just important as we move this program together.

And what we want to do is basically be that technical assistance group that says, yes, I want to institute an Ashanti Alert Plan in my state or update my current plan. We want to be able to help do that. And the other thing that we're extremely, that we want you, as states, to know on here and people that we hope will participate in this particular program, that you have the utmost support from the Office of Justice Program, OJP, us here at the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the RISS folks.

Now as we talk about these items, what I wanted to do is show a very high level diagram on how we believe that this is going to work from a national level. So very start, we start at the beginning that we have this reporting adult. I have information that somebody that I'm close to or I observe something and I wanted to make an alert. So you're going to report it. Again, this is the importance of the community awareness literature is where do I report this too? Because there's a number of law enforcement agencies. Do I send it to my local law enforcement? Does my local law enforcement get it into the state system? So all these kind of things are stuff that we want to deal with.

So once it gets to the right individual and the right place, we're actually going to go it would go in there. And then as I already mentioned by Virginia and we have found this in some of our discussions with the other states. And I mentioned this earlier that in this particular age group, individuals do have a right not to be found, or I hate to use the term missing, but that they don't want to be located maybe due to a number of factors. But that's why this is important that this investigation is conducted to see that there's some criminal activity, possible abductions, there's a well-being issue here.

So that investigation is conducted. If it does not meet the requirement for that particular state, then it stops right there. If it does meet the criteria for them to issue an alert within their state, after they put their package together and their package could include all this information that Sergeant Williams mentioned about photograph, could be a press release, could be the investigative document, and whatever.

And then they would get this, and then what we would do is we would share it. And the individual state that wants to make this they can pick and choose which states they might want to do it. Again, this is local, regional, might be just contiguous states. But they can pick and choose. Or, hey, this is the kind of case that you know we might to make this a national alert. And then we would use that secure background to actually issue that alert nationwide.

Now I want to take this one step further and give you just one more higher look at this. And this would look at how this is that state coordinator that I had mentioned that they're the ones and usually there is one state entity that's required for the alerts in that particular state. And then what they would do, is they'd be able to have access to this national secure network where they could share this information. And it's very important, as you look at this and the servers it's just a depiction of these are programs that are happening in all these different states.

But notice right under the orange box, that black arrow it's important that it's a two-way communication. And why it's important to have this two-way communication, it's one thing to put the alert out, but it's also important as we said, we have some responsibility for Congress. They want to know if the network is working. How do we fund it in the future, those kind of things. And statistical information is extremely important.

So that two-way communication talks about the alert goes out, but also gives that state entities to let us know, yes, hey, thank you for assistance. That individual was located. Hey, we're taking that alert off. It's no longer an active alert. But having that two-way seamless communication is extremely important.

Now finally, in looking at this particular website, our idea is that we want to have and we know each of the states are doing again, we had discussions with Virginia because they were the one state that kind of associated the term Ashanti Alert to their system. And we know other states are out there doing something very similar. So we're want to kind of make that connection, so but we're thinking about possibly a national website talking about the program, what it is, what the basics are, information if people need to contact people, and so forth.

But also, it would keep a kind of a thumbnail sketch of people that are currently reported missing in particular states. And one of the ideas that we've worked in and programs in the past was if you can see that Virginia is actually greened out here. So we're saying that right now Virginia is a state that currently has this Ashanti Alert package available. So I would go on and if I would click on that state, what it would actually do, it would be a link for an individual to go directly to the Virginia web page.

Or it could be any other state that we see participating here. That I can go to Texas, I can go to California, I can go to New York, Pennsylvania, or wherever. And then I can actually go there. And I would it's very similar to if I want to go to an area and look for maybe criminals or things that people that have been reported my area. So this allows me to look for, hey, you know what, are there any missing persons my area? I might run into them, those kind of things. So that's extremely important.

Now when we look at this and we kind of want to talk of whats next. Again, I have to echo our Director Costigan on welcoming you here today. This is extremely important for us that you, as state representatives, I know we have people on here from AMBER, people in here from Silver, people that are doing this work every day in the field. So what we're looking at is to identify states that want to be part of the Ashanti Alert Pilot Program.

And once a state lets us know that they're interested in being part of this pilot program, what we'll actually do from there is set up a dialogue with them. What kind of technical assistance do you need? Can we help you with this? Can we assist you with guidelines? You tell us what kind of technical assistance you might need. The other thing that we're extremely looking forward to is this interaction. How we have learned in developing information sharing systems, especially at a national level, the old adage of build it and they will come doesn't always work.

What you need to do is have people that are doing this every day, that know the intricacies of what it is in the field. So we're looking to do, and build this, and develop this, and implement this based on the guidance that we're getting from the states, the people that are doing this every day. We also have our partners here at the Office of Justice Programs working with the AMBER. We're also, start with Silver Alert. How we can do this?

And again, we will talk about not reinventing the wheel. So what we're really looking to is to identify states to bring us up to speed, again, on a national level. And it's kind of difficult now with all the crazy things happening. How do we contact that right person? What's the right contact person for that particular state? What are you doing? What services do you already provide? Are you doing anything that kind of aligns with Ashanti Alert. So all that information will be collected. And again, we're looking for states that want to join and be part of this pilot program.

Before we get into the questions part of this, this is my contact information here at the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Please feel free to reach out. Call me with any additional questions you might have or email me.

And one of the other things that we think is going to be a very positive, is under the act it talks about developing an advisory group. And there was one meeting with an advisory group. And it was mostly federal entities, some law enforcement people. But we saw this as it's going to be extremely important, again, to have that state, local representation on here. So again, the people who are doing this every day can help us and build a very successful program.
We're also extremely lucky that, as I mentioned before, there was a National Blue Alert that was instituted. Brainchild of that and the person that led that is now working here at the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Mr. Vince Davenport, who is my supervisor. And we're lucky to have his expertise and knowledge. So this is extremely important for us is to learn from the people that have done this or know what they're doing, and not build something and people say, no, this isn't the way it works. So with that, I will turn it over to our moderator and to the question section.

Thank you, David. And thank you to all the presenters that we had today for sharing your insight and your knowledge with us. We're now moving into the Q&A session part of the webinar. If you have any questions for presenters, now's the time to hit us in that question box. But I did notice as we were going through the presentations we did have several come in. So we'll start looking at some of those a little bit closer now.

The first one looks like it's for Christina, probably. It's from Patrick Murphy. It says, "from what I understand, the final call regarding a statewide Ashanti Alert is from the Virginia State Police." It's a two part question. "Who specifically in Virginia State Police makes this determination?" And the second part is, "what mechanism, if any, is available for a reassessment or of a denial of activation? In other words, is there a mechanism for appeal of determination?"

Yes. Once we get the request from the agency, we will report into our first line would be our First Sergeant in our area. And he would make the determination as to whether or not it meets the criteria. And if he decides it does meet the criteria we do go ahead with the activation. If it doesn't meet the criteria we don't really have a reassessment. I mean, if it doesn't meet all the guidelines then we really just don't activate. I'm not sure if that answers the question.

OK. Well he'll let us know if we didn't. The next one and this one might be for David. It says, "what other states have adopted the plan? Or is Virginia the only one at this point?"

As I mentioned, right now this was the one that we knew that was instituting specifically Ashanti Alert as part of their plan. But we do know that other states are doing alerts as it relates to missing persons within this age range. This was the one that, especially, coming out of Virginia and dealing with Senator Warner, so this was the one that we reached out to first and that's why we're doing this, to raise our awareness on how we can identify the other states and actually what they are doing.

And just kind of building on that, I see we got another question asking, "what if my state already has something in place to address missing adults? How does that work with the Ashanti Alert?"

Well that's exactly where our meeting is. Once we know that, what we want to do is take that information and we can get them to be part of the program. So we look and see how they're handling it, how this could affect and assist other states, and then we would just possibly, we can look at how they could maybe upgrade their plans or integrate with us on being part of that Ashanti Network.

Thanks for clarifying that David. The other one that came in is, "is this alert only for abducted persons? Or is it for persons under suspicion of circumstance, risk of death, bodily serious injury? Is that covered?"

I think that's a state by state policy. That's why we're talking why the investigation has to be done. But we do have to, again, answering the question before is if that individual chooses not to be located, those are the kind of things, and as we mentioned, it could be criminal activity. It could be worried about serious bodily harm, those kind of things. I think that's all part of the evaluation. It all comes down as part of the state policy.

Great David. Thank you for the clarification on that. There's another question here. I see it says, "what are the guidelines?" I think we've covered some of that, but maybe the person who typed that can clarify a little bit. Then there's another one that came in. It says, "how does this law pertain to military bases and tribal land?"

Yeah we would think that would, again, we wanted to involve tribal areas in this. They would have the same capabilities as the state would because they're their own entities. Military bases that's a very interesting question. We would hope that they would work in conjunction with their state law enforcement agency, possibly with that state notification system.

Great. A follow up question to one we had before it says, "is there a hypothetical denial based on not meeting the criteria if local law enforcement developed new information that they believe meets the missing criteria. Is the system set up to account for submission of this new information?

Again, I'll answer that. And only the reason I say that is, we are creating the system, each state has to have their own program and there has to be a process. For example, if you get additional information it's like any other investigation the first time the alert may have not been issued because there are insufficient information or evidence. With additional information you build on that. And it may raise the level where a alert would be issued.

And this might be a question for Christina kind of following along those same lines. "Does Virginia have data on how many requests for Ashanti that were denied during 2018-2019?"

I don't have access to any of the denial information for 2019. All I have is the five that we did activate in 2019.

Thank you. Another one, "So what exactly will occur if we decide to enter the pilot project? Is the main purpose of the pilot project to help with technical technology needs or issues?"

Well, I think that's why we do a pilot so we understand what we actually need. So it's going to be an evaluation on our part. What do states need to help share that information across state lines and be able to say, I have a problem in this state. But I want to get that information to my adjacent states. So it might be technology. It might be how am I doing my reporting? How does my rules and guidelines work in my state? And for example, just as you know you have crime codes change from state to state on this is what we call this particular crime. But this is what we call this crime over here.

What we need to do is find that common ground. As I'm gathering my information in one state, how do I package it and share it with other states? But then, we have to identify that alert mechanism for that particular state that allows them to do the alert within their state. But also, to have that relationship with other states to expand that alert to other areas where they think this may occur.

All right. Here's one that kind of ties in the last one. And I know you kind of touched on this a little bit already, David. It says, "is it mandatory for a statewide notification process for every single Ashanti Alert?"

I actually think that that's a question for that particular state. Who is the Department of Justice is not going to come in and tell you that this is what you have to do. But again, once we get together and states come together very similar as some of our previous alerts, this is the foundation for an Ashanti Alert or an alert for somebody within this particular age range. And states, hopefully, would follow that particular guidance. But again, this is a project or a program that happens within that particular state.

Makes complete sense. Okay. Thank you for clarifying that again. I'm looking for anything that may not have already been asked. "Is there any role for the regional AMBER Alert programs? Or should we just sit this one out?" Most of them wear multiple hats, so I'm going to let you answer that David.
Well I think this is--again, we said we want to learn from the way things are going. And that we obviously know that AMBER has been extremely successful and then fostered it with Silver Alert coming in. I think those individuals that--the regional people will be extremely helpful in saying in the educational process on how people are making the report, what needs to be changed, what needs to be updated.

I would say right now is--and having a background mostly in building National Information Sharing Systems is we get all our new direction from what's happening in the field, by them telling us, hey, this is good. But if it could do this, this would be great. So I think everybody is going to have a role here if you're involved with AMBER and you're dealing with other things that might deal with that next age bracket. Or something you think that would be extremely helpful, or some type of updates that should be made we're extremely open to hear those kind of things.

This one goes back to what we were speaking to before. "It's as if every state has different criteria for Ashanti. Putting out an alert for connecting state the state might be a problem. Correct, David?"

I tell you what. Surprisingly enough, we've overcome some things dealing with those. If you say this is the minimum, the minimum basis of what we need for us to institute an alert in our state. You can have states that are more restrictive on what they'll do and states that might be less. But if you find that minimal ground, we can identify that. And again, as you're sending it across that state line, each of the coordinators are going to they're going to evaluate what you share with them. To say, OK, this meets our criteria. And we'll be willing to share that in our state.

That goes back to what we're trying to do here--is why we mentioned that two-way communication is extremely important. Again, say for in Texas, where they have a notification and they want to maybe put it across states on the southwest border or on the Gulf states, along that area. If I send my packet to these three or four other states, it would be great to know that, yes, we received your packet and we are going to institute that. That way when you're doing your own reporting and said, we did this, we sent it to these four states or five states, all of them responded positively, and they are going to implement the alert.
Now I will tell you the moment, the very moment, that this helps find somebody, people will be yes, this is exactly what was needed and is part of the success story to this program.

Thank you. All right. This one might be for Christina. We have a couple that have come in. It says, "it appears Virginia, how did you engage the local authorities? Does it need to be at the state level or can it be more grass roots?"

I think once we implemented the alert, we sent out a message to the local agencies throughout the state that we had a new alert that was available to them. And that's how we notified them of the ability to use the alert in situations.

And just the follow up question, I see that they asked, "on average how many requests do you receive for Ashanti?"

I, myself, have only received three. But, I mean, I know of the 10. But I'm not really sure without looking at our spreadsheet to see how many we've actually had since we implemented the alert.

Okay. Perfect. And this one might be a more state level question too. But I'll pose it to the panel just in case somebody wants to answer it. It says, "our state has four counties that operate independently. They follow the same guidelines as AMBER but each county has its own coordinator and they don't have a State Wide Clearinghouse. How do you get everybody on the same page?"

I would say that each coordinator would meet with each other to try to come up with a mutual criteria so that they're all on the same page when they broadcast the alert.

I would kind of build on that. Also that one of the ideas behind why we're doing this kind of serving as kind of a clearinghouse. The states do their own areas. But if each one has their own coordinator, we can use the particular network to actually share that information and be kind of impartial third party to help coordinate those four areas.

Thank you sir. All right. This is another one for you David. "Does Ashanti have a code for EAS or WEA? "

I will actually turn that over to my boss, Vince Davenport.

Thank you David. That's such a great question. So there is not a dedicated event code an EAS event code for Ashanti Alerts. I think other notwithstanding the EAS event codes for weather there's only a very small number of dedicated event codes for certain circumstances.

However, here's what we recommend. And what we've seen around the country for missing alerts that have been issued, either under existing missing alert programs or Silver Alert Programs, some people use LEW, the Law Enforcement Warning. Some use local area emergency. Some use ADR. It really whatever works for you.

And the truth, is I know that those you that are involved in alerting and using the IPAWS system you know that LEW is kind of a good catch all. But that varies from state to state. So I would say use whatever you think is best because there is not a perfect fit. And we don't think it is likely that the FCC will create a dedicated code. So we're going to have to use something. And I think that for the most part LEW seems to be the most popular.

Thanks Vince. All right. There's one question left and it has to do with potential funding being available through BJA. We'll let them respond to questions about that individually as they come into their AA agency on a case by case and need basis. So with that is there any other questions? Otherwise I see the chat box is pretty empty.

Well with that, I'd like to thank our presenters again. This is going to conclude the webinar. But I'm going to give one last chance for our presenters to make any closing statements that they want to provide additional information to our audience. Christina, do you have anything?

The only thing that I can add is if anybody needs to contact me here at the office, my office numbers 804-674-2148 and I can also be contacted by email. And it's Christina spelled out, [email protected] And that's really all I have.

Thank you Christina. David, I know I see your contact information is already up on the slide. So any closing statements from you as well?

Yeah. I would also say since you have my contact information up there, if you need me to redirect anything to Christina, maybe Mr. Muhammad, our director, or even my, Vince Davenport, my immediate supervisor. Please feel free to use this information. I'll make sure that they get it. We're really looking forward to moving this forward. And I would say is if states are interested in being part of the pilot program, I would say please send me an email. And we'll start from there. Thank you.

Thank you sir. Appreciate that information. Since we heard your voice, Vince, did you want to have any you have any follow up that you wanted to close out with?

Yeah. I appreciate that. Thank you. First off, thank you everybody for making time. We know that there are a lot of things that compete for your time out there. And for those you that are practitioners are out there in the alerting field you've been in this space for a while. I just want to say thanks.

David and I, we both come from a law enforcement background. We know how important the roles are that you play. And even if you're not an alerting official, you're in a support role, or you wouldn't be on this webinar. It means a great deal to us. I also want to make sure that it's so easy sometimes as public servants and bureaucrats. Some of us that it's easy sometimes just to kind of see what we do as work that just has to get done.

But I think it's also equally important that we stop every now and then and understand really what's behind this work. And the name of this act, the Ashanti Alert Act, Ashanti was Ashanti Billie's name. She was a beautiful young 19-year-old woman who was tragically kidnapped and killed. And I think it's important that we recognize that this is really the law was named in her honor. The work that we do is in her honor. And I just was so impressed with the remarks by the family advocate, Mr. Muhammad what beautiful and powerful remarks that he offered at the beginning of our call.

So let's all remember that what we're doing here matters that real lives are at stake. And so do your best. We're here to help you. We're very fortunate to have David. David is as committed as they come. And we're just so excited about the next phase. We want to roll this out far and wide east west, north and south, to make sure that if there are lives that can be saved, that we do that. So thank you all for participating. And thank you for giving us a chance for some closing comments. Thank you.

I was going to say, Vince, that's exactly where I was going. Mr. Muhammad, I wanted to leave you for last to close it up on behalf of the family.

Oh very, very kind of you sir. While Mr. And Mrs. Billie are not on the call, they definitely desired to be scheduling, prevented I've been in communication with Meltony Billie during the call. They are elated at the roll out. And they're also wanting it to be known that they're available as this roll out goes throughout the country, as is myself. And we're available to talk to cities, and localities, and states about how to engage their government in pushing this process.
Because ultimately, having all 50 states working in a combined effort gives a greater strength to the alert. It makes it a common alert. It makes it known to people no matter where they are, as is the case with the AMBER and the Silver Alert. But ultimately, we are very, very thankful for the work of the Trump Administration, of our United States combined Congress, and the Justice Department's work to really get this thing put in a way that American lives can begin to be saved and served. And so we're grateful. And we're thankful. And again, we stand ready and available to serve in any capacity to make sure that this rollout is a success. Thank you.

Thank you sir. Once again, powerful words to wrap up this great, great event. With that, I just wanted to close it out by saying thank you to everybody too for making time in your day to attend. I'd like to thank our people in the background that are helping me with the questions and keeping everything flowing and moving along. Really appreciate everybody being back there doing and taking care of things for us and helping all your questions and technology questions get answered. With that, if there's no more questions, we'll wrap things up and call it a day.

Date Created: August 12, 2020