Warner pushes DOJ on Ashanti Alert system

mark warner newU.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to Ashanti Alert Coordinator Katherine Sullivan, reiterating the need for the Department of Justice to get the national communication network swiftly up-and-running. This letter follows a July 29 in-person meeting between Sen. Warner and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sullivan.

“As I stated during our conversation, I remain strongly committed to monitoring its implementation and ensuring that the network can start saving lives soon. It was heartening to hear that as designated national coordinator, you are committed to swiftly implementing this potentially lifesaving system by working in collaboration with states to ensure that Ashanti Alert systems are established across the country with proper network guidelines,” wrote Sen. Warner.

After DOJ indicated that little progress had been made on the implementation of the federal Ashanti Alert system in March, Sen. Warner demanded an in-person meeting with DOJ officials to discuss the status of implementation efforts. During the meeting, Sen. Warner urged the DOJ to consult with Virginia state and local officials who passed state-wide legislation to create an Ashanti Alert network and successfully implemented it three months after it was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Last year, Virginia successfully established its own Ashanti Alert system in only three months. Since then, the Commonwealth has sent out a number of alerts, some of which have helped find missing or endangered adults alive in under 24 hours. As we discussed, I believe that the officials in Virginia could provide valuable guidance to you and other states, so I urge you to seek out their guidance regarding this matter,” continued Sen. Warner.

On Dec. 20, 2018, Sen. Warner successfully secured Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, which was then signed into law later in the month. Ever since, he has continued to pressure the DOJ to work with relevant stakeholders to promptly implement the alert network nationwide to help save lives.

“I was glad to hear that you have already thought about some actionable ideas on implementation, including your suggestion to include an Ashanti Alert workshop in the next national Amber Alert symposium. However, I continue to expect the Department to identify additional avenues and strategies to speed up the implementation process, while consulting with law enforcement agencies, stakeholders, and other relevant entities who played roles during the adoption of the Amber and Silver alerts,” concluded Sen. Warner.

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