WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Mark Warner says the Department of Justice must implement the nationwide Ashanti Alert within the next few months or risk losing funding.
The Ashanti Alert is named for Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old abducted from Norfolk in 2017 and later killed. It establishes a nationwide alert system for missing and endangered adults, similar to Amber and Silver Alerts.
The Ashanti Alert Act was signed into law on January 1, but the system has still not been created.
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Warner said there's a provision in the upcoming appropriations bill that would force the DOJ to give a timeline and plan for implementation.
"We've got to hold the Department of Justice accountable," Warner said. "I don't know why they've not got it implemented already. We now have teeth in the legislation to make sure that alert that will save people's lives is in place."
He added, "I just say to DOJ, do your job and follow the law. Let's make sure we have the system in place across the country so when young adults and not so young adults go missing or endangered we can bring in the whole public to help find them."
Warner said he's frustrated to see little progress almost a year after the bill was signed into law, but he expects that to change within two to three months if the appropriations bill is approved.