The Missing and Endangered Person Advisory, or MEPA, is a modified alert program designed to provide Montana law enforcement agencies another option to respond to the types of missing person cases they typically deal with. This may include tracking runaways, missing children, children involved in custody disputes and missing adults. MEPA can be used in situations that do not meet AMBER Alert criteria, but do meet the MEPA criteria outlined below. While the AMBER Alert program is specifically restricted to child abduction cases in which the child’s life may be in danger, MEPA was designed to assist law enforcement agencies in the range of situations that do not fall within the AMBER Alert criteria.
MEPA allows agencies to quickly get the word out to the public and to other law enforcement around the state and the region.
A MEPA Advisory is initiated solely by Montana law enforcement agencies using the following criteria:
- Do the circumstances fail to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert? (If they do meet the criteria, immediately follow the AMBER Alert protocol.)
- Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances?
- Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, or environmental or weather conditions; to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or is there some other factor that may put the person in peril?
- Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the missing person? The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.
For detailed information on the specific procedures used to initiate a MEPA advisory, see the Enactment Policy and Procedures (PDF).
Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) guidelines call for local agencies to first determine whether a case is appropriate for an AMBER Alert. If not, the agency can request a MEPA advisory. MEPA uses some of the same notification procedures as the AMBER Alert program.
- DCI notifies all Montana law enforcement agencies through CJIN and issues advisories through the National Weather Service, Montana Department of Transportation and the Montana Lottery.
- Media – either in a specific region of the state or statewide – are notified via the Weather Service system or by e-mail or fax.
- The requesting agency may also request that the Department of Justice send the advisory to border ports of entry or other public agencies.
- If the missing person is under age 18, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is notified.
- Flyers created by the missing person locater program can be distributed locally or regionally at the discretion of the requesting agency.
Generally, the MEPA will expire after 24 hours, although the requesting agency can ask for a longer time period. The advisory can also be updated or cancelled by the requester at any time.