Silver Alert

Silver Alert Logo

To help protect an increasing population of individuals that suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairment, North Carolina developed the Silver Alert program to quickly locate missing persons who may be endangered.

The Silver Alert program was designed to quickly disseminate descriptive information about the missing person, so that citizens in the affected area can be on the lookout for the endangered person and notify local law enforcement with any relevant information. The program is a cooperative effort among local and state law enforcement and the N.C. Center for Missing Persons, with voluntary participation by radio and television broadcasters and the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Specific health information about the missing person is not publicized through the alert, or otherwise, in order to protect the missing from potential abuse, harm or exploitation.

Although a few other states have implemented similar programs to locate missing endangered adults, the Silver Alert program is unique to North Carolina and only one of three designed to help cognitively impaired persons. The North Carolina General Assembly formally established the program in 2007 by General Statute § 143B-499.8; it is operated through the N.C. Center for Missing Persons.


ALL of the following statutory criteria must be met before the N.C. Center for Missing Persons will activate a Silver Alert:

  • The person is believed to be missing.
  • The person is believed to be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, or a disability that requires them to be protected from potential abuse or other physical harm, neglect, or exploitation.
  • A legal custodian of the missing person has submitted a missing person's report to the local law enforcement agency where the person went missing
  • Law enforcement reports the incident to the NC Center for Missing Persons.

The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons is the only agency that can activate a Silver Alert and will do so ONLY at the request of an investigating law enforcement agency. It is then the responsibility of the center to determine whether there is sufficient identifying data to justify a Silver Alert activation.


Step 1 - Local Law Enforcement Investigates
When a family member or caregiver calls local law enforcement to report their missing loved one, the law enforcement agency must first investigate the case and determine if the criteria warrant a request for a Silver Alert. According to North Carolina law, a Silver Alert can only be issued if all of the criteria are met (see above).

Step 2 - Local Law Enforcement Calls NC Center for Missing Persons
After completing the investigation and determining the case meets the qualifying criteria, law enforcement will call the NC Center for Missing Persons (an agency within the Department of Public Safety) to request a Silver Alert. The law enforcement agency will send completed Silver Alert forms to the center outlining the necessary information about the missing person.

Step 3 - NC Missing Persons Center Issues Silver Alert
The center and investigating law enforcement agency work together to notify the surrounding community about the missing person.

Law Enforcement Responsibilities

  • Enter information into the National Criminal Information Center system
  • Initiate a statewide “be on the lookout” bulletin to all appropriate law enforcement agencies
  • Provide a 24-hour phone number to receive calls during the investigation
  • Activate phone calls in the immediate area using a type of reverse 911 calling system. (Using the A Child is Missing program, law enforcement can notify 1,000 businesses and/or residents each minute)
  • Notify the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (if the person is 21 or younger)

NC Center for Missing Persons Responsibilities

  • Update information on the department's web site
  • Notify the local media about the missing person (including pictures when possible)
  • Request the NCDOT to activate highway message signs (if appropriate).  Highway message signs are typically used only for Silver Alerts with vehicle information. Use of highway message signs for Silver Alerts without vehicle information must be approved by NC Center for Missing Persons or law enforcement.

Once the missing person has been located, the local law enforcement agency will notify the NC Center of Missing Persons, who will cancel the Silver Alert.


Silver Alert brochure


NC Division of Aging

The Area Agency on Aging Map

NC Family Caregiver Support Program

NC Alzheimer's Support Program