Senate approves Jones bill to help protect children with special needs

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to help lost or injured people with special needs.

“If children with special needs are injured or wander away, they are often unable to help law enforcement contact their caregivers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Under this legislation, parents would be able to voluntarily have photographs and fingerprints of their special needs children entered into a statewide system that can be used to identify the children and reunite them with their families.”

Senate Bill 1170 would allow parents and guardians of special needs children to voluntarily add children with special needs to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) database and the statewide network of agency photos maintained by Michigan State Police. SB 1171 would allow guardians to make the same requests for adults with special needs under their care.

Jones said that there would be no cost to taxpayers; caregivers would pay the state police for the costs.

“This program would be completely voluntary and the photographs and fingerprints would be removed from the databases at any time if requested by the parent or caregiver,” Jones said. “This is about giving parents and guardians an important tool that could help law enforcement officials reunite families when someone with special needs is unable to assist them.”

The bills now head to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.