Senator Mark Warner calls for DOJ to implement Ashanti Alert

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — What’s the hold up? That’s what U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D- Va.) and the parents of Ashanti Billie want to know.

Billie was abducted from Norfolk in 2017 and later found dead in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Ashanti Alert became law last year to help save endangered adults, but the Department of Justice admits little progress has been made.

Four months ago, President Donald Trump signed the Ashanti Alert into law.  It’s supossed to provide an alert similar to an Amber or Silver Alert for adults who fall in between those two age groups and are considered missing or endangered.

“Even though it can’t save our daughter’s life any longer, it could still help save your mother, your sister, your daughter, your friend, your loved one,” said Brandy Billie, Ashanti’s mother.

The Ashanti Alert is already active on the state level, but Warner says its been delayed on the federal level by a lack of urgency from the Department of Justice.

In a press conference today, Warner said he recently sent a letter to the D.O.J. asking what the status was of the implementation of the alert.  He says answer he received was not satisfactory. 

“It’s a bureacratic letter that doesn’t answer my direct questions of give us a timeline, give us when we’re going to have the outreach,” said Warner.  “They have named a coordinator so I will give them that, but there needs to be a sense of urgency and that sense of urgency is missing.”

Delegate Jay Jones has been behind the efforts to get the Ashanti Alert working on the state level.  He says it cost the state $50,000 to implement.

Warner says if the Department of Justice is using funding as an excuse, he will work to get the money to fund the technology necessary to make the law work. 

“All we’re asking is for the Department of Justice to implement the law,” Warner said.  “This is the law of the land and I believe if the Department of Justice needs guidance, they can look to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

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