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What are the alert procedures when searching for a missing person?

Posted at: 01/24/2013 5:17 PM
Updated at: 01/24/2013 6:37 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

An elderly man walks away from his home and goes missing in freezing temperatures, so what do police do to try and find him as quickly as possible?

On Monday, 80-year-old Marco Montante, who suffered from Alzhiemer's wandered away from his home in Webster. His body was found the next day in a drainage ditch.

News10NBC wanted to know how police decide when to reach out to the public for help in these situations.  

Webster Police say they take each missing person case-by-case. They said in this case, officers began searching the surrounding area right away. Police reached out to the public when they felt they needed more help finding Montante.

Lt. Joe Rieger, Webster Police, said,  “As officers responded they reported it as a missing person, took a report had officers foot patrol, walk through the neighborhood where the individual lived we had vehicles searching roads for him.”

The Webster Police were called about the missing man around one on Monday afternoon. They were told he walked away from his home on Lauren Court  in Webster around 10:00 a.m. Police found his body, two miles away, near Ashbrook Circle in Penfield Tuesday around 4:20 p.m.

Police say Montante suffered from Alzhiemer's and had a history of walking away, but always returned before dark. When that didn't happen this time, police turned to the public for help. They sent out a reverse 911 call to 51, 000 people, all of Webster, part of Penfield, and part of Irondequoit. That was about 7:00 p.m. on Monday.

Lt. Joe Rieger, Webster Police, said, “We are looking at almost three hours someone could actually walk 9 10 miles in that time. So you are looking at a huge area?”

News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri said, “Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but do you wish looking back you put the alert out sooner?”

Lt. Joe Rieger, Webster Police, said, “After we put that hyper reach out, we had people calling everywhere from Irondequoit, I saw him at an Irondequoit bus stop, to the city, he was walking down main street in city. We had him sighted at Schlegel Road, and Klem Road. So once that goes out it's hard to limit where this person will be cause everyone who sees and elderly person, or gentlemen walking will call us.”

At that point, the dozens of searchers were being pulled in a lot of directions trying to track down the leads, something Lt. Reiger says may have hurt them.

Lt. Reiger said, “It will be false positive cause we are looking in the city of Rochester when we should be looking somewhere in Webster. We sent cars out to Wayne County to check locations there.”
    
The lieutenant said while they can cause a lot of wrong tips those reverse 911 calls are important. For example, they were used Christmas Eve in Webster to notify home owners about what was going on.

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