The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is launching a new emergency alert system aimed at helping find missing indigenous people.

Spokesperson Chris Loftis said the Missing Indigenous Person Alert (MIPA) system is necessary because Washington's indigenous population is in disproportionate peril.

Loftis said, "Our indigenous people make up about 1.1% of the population but make up almost 6% of the number of missing in our state."

Law enforcement across the state will automatically be notified when an alert begins. The alert will also be sent to media outlets and will be placed on Department of Transportation readerboards if there is a vehicle associated with the disappearance.

"It's a lot of work, but if it works once it works every moment and every penny spent," continued Loftis.

Not every person that's missing would qualify for an alert, however. According to the WSP, "if a person can return on their own but chooses not to, and/or there are no indicators of foul play, and/or there is inadequate identifying information to make the alert available, some situations may not quality for inclusion."

WSP listed three criteria for the new system to be activated:

  • An indigenous person is missing due to unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances and/or is believed to be in danger because of age, health, adverse weather, or other circumstances and is believed to be unable to return to safety without assistance.
  • There is enough descriptive information available that could reasonably assist with the safe recovery of the person such as: photos, height, weight, age, hair color, distinguishing physical characteristics, clothing, etc.
  • The incident has been reported to and is being investigated by law enforcement.

Unlike an Amber Alert, which is a national system of notification, the MIPA requires you to sign up to receive alerts. To get registered for alerts, go to wsp.wa.gov.