Adults added to missing children's law

  • Article by: BOB VON STERNBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2009 - 12:40 AM

Gov. Pawlenty signed 'Brandon's Law,' which is meant to expedite response when loved ones of any age disappear.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty held a ceremonial bill-signing Thursday of "Brandon's Law," which expands the state's missing children's law to include adults who are missing and potentially endangered.

The law is named for Brandon Swanson, 19, who has been missing since last May, when his car went into a ditch in southwestern Minnesota.

"We're here to lend our voice to recommit Minnesota, and, I hope, others around the country, that [law enforcement] will respond as robustly as possible when people are missing," Pawlenty said.

Swanson's parents, Brian and Annette, began pushing for a change in the law after frustrating encounters with law enforcement officials, who explained to them that adults generally have a right to be missing.

"But don't tell me that without finding out the circumstances first," Annette Swanson said in the midst of lobbying for the law this spring.

"This is a bittersweet moment for us," she said Thursday. "I would never want to be here ... but I want to make a difference for other people."

The law, which takes effect July 1, was sponsored by House Minority Leader Marty Seifert and requires authorities to take missing persons reports "without delay" and conduct preliminary investigations to see if fears appear founded.

The law would accelerate law enforcement's response if a missing person is considered "endangered." That includes situations in which the missing person needs medical attention, when the disappearance clearly wasn't voluntary or occurred in dangerous circumstances.

"No family should have to endure the additional heartache ... of a slow or inadequate response," Pawlenty said.

Minnesota is following the lead of other states that already have bolstered their laws to find missing senior citizens and young adults.

The Swansons, their daughter, Jamine, and Seifert attended the signing ceremony. Also attending were David and Linda Francis and their two daughters. Their son, Jon, a 24-year-old from Stillwater, disappeared on July 15, 2006, while hiking in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains. His remains were found more than a year later.

Bob von Sternberg • 612-673-7184

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