Federal bill includes funding for Ashanti Alert

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Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said the bill allocates $1 million to implement the federal missing persons program nationwide.

NORFOLK, Va. — More money is on the way to support Ashanti Alert across the country.

According to Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, a new funding bill includes $1 million for the federal alert system for missing or endangered adults.

The Ashanti Alert became law in 2018 and created a federal alert for seriously missing adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

RELATED: Ashanti Warning Pilot Program Now Ready, States Can Apply for Funding for New Warning System

Delegate Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) is one of the people who have championed the program.

“It’s a start, and I think you should always be grateful for the continuation of this conversation,” Scott said.

The Ashanti Alert is named after 19-year-old Ashanti Billie. September 18 marks the fifth anniversary of his disappearance in Norfolk.

Billie disappeared in 2017 from JEB Little Creek-Fort Story. Her body was found in Charlotte, North Carolina, 11 days later.

The man accused of kidnapping and killing Billie, Eric Brown, is still behind bars.

RELATED: Ashanti Billie’s Family to Mark 4th Anniversary of Her Disappearance with a Call to Action

Ashanti was too old for an Amber Alert and too young for a Silver Alert.

In a joint statement, Warner and Kaine said, “The Ashanti Alert saves lives, but only if they are given the tools to do so.”

According to their offices, it takes about $1 million a year in federal dollars to cover the expenses associated with the federal portion of the program. They said more money is needed at the state level to support each state’s implementation efforts.

In recent months, police have issued several Ashanti alerts in Hampton Roads, including searches for Marie Covington in Virginia Beach and Shanitia Eure Lewis in Newport News.

RELATED: Officers ‘Progress’ in Search for Missing Newport News Mother

Scott, an attorney, also represents the Billie family and said he was grateful for the progress and efforts of his federal colleagues. However, he feels there is still work to be done.

“It may seem like a long time, but I know that’s how this fight is going. And I think it’s a big step forward,” he said.

The bill is expected to go to a Senate committee later this year before it can be considered in the Senate.

Here is the full statement from Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine on the funding:

“Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old Virginia native, was abducted and murdered on her way to work in 2017, but due to her age was ineligible for an Amber or Silver Alert. response to Ashanti’s tragic death, we were proud to pass the Ashanti Alert Act to create a new federal alert system for missing or at-risk adults ages 18-64. lives, but only if given the tools to do so. We are proud to continue working to secure the necessary federal funds to support the significant expansion of this program.

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