ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Thousands of children go missing in Upstate New York every year, and a loophole in a federal law makes it tougher for police to find them.
Senator Chuck Schumer reintroduced legislation known as The Bringing Missing Children Home Act. The bill would eliminate a loophole in federal law that prevents local and state law enforcement officials across Upstate New York from quickly and thoroughly reporting on, updating and responding to missing children cases throughout the state.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said he supports the bill, but he also believes the bill needs to address other issues as well.
“There are over 10,000 kids who go missing in Upstate New York; hundreds in the Capital Region,” Schumer said. “And there’s a loophole in the law that actually prevents them from being found.”
The legislation would allow all police departments to update missing children’s websites even if they did not report the incident.
“For instance, if the Albany Police Department reported a child missing and the police department in Saratoga County had information about the child, the Saratoga County information couldn’t be put on the website,” Schumer said.
The bill would also require law enforcement to coordinate directly with the state and local child welfare systems when a child is reported missing. Apple agrees with that portion of the bill, but he would like to see it work both ways.
“Anytime you can do a rescue as opposed to a recovery, hey, that’s a grand slam,” he said. “But when you can’t get that information from them, that’s a problem.”
Apple said he recently dealt with that very problem in the case of five-year-old Kenneth White of Knox. Apple said authorities believed early in their investigation that Kenneth was missing. Apple said he tried to get information from Child Protective Services, but they wouldn’t give it to him.
Kenneth was later found dead. His cousin, 19-year-old Tiffany VanAlstyne, has been arrested and charged with Murder for his death.
Even though Apple later found out he was entitled to the facts, he doesn’t want to run into that issue again, though he predicts it will.
“Minutes do matter, and if you have to constantly run around in circles to try to get it, who knows how far that child could be away from where he was taken from or where he walked away from,” Apple said.
Schumer said he believes the bill will pass, but Apple said if the bill passes, he wants his idea included in the proposal.