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At about 10:30pm on Friday February 21st, 2014 Reno Police Officer David Jernigan was on patrol filling up his patrol car with fuel at the Reno Quick Stop when he saw an elderly man that appeared lost. The man then came up to Jernigan asking for directions and it was clear to him that the man was in fact lost. Officer Jernigan then obtained identification from the man named Robert Eugene Searer, 77 years old of Hawkins, Texas. After a standard drivers license check, Officer Jernigan was informed that the man was missing out of Wood County and immediately had Lamar County dispatch contact authorities in Wood County to arrange a safe return to his family back home.
The state wide broadcast in question is called a Silver Alert and it was issued for Mr. Searer on Wednesday February 19th, 2014. Silver Alert’s are similar to Amber Alert’s for missing children; they are for missing elderly residents who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other similar impairments and become lost. The broadcast is done over secure law enforcement communications networks so if an officer encounters the lost person and runs his driver’s license information, the officer will be alerted.
Searer was later reunited with his family, who came to pick up him and his truck in Reno. Officer Jernigan waited with Searer at Reno City Hall for a couple of hours until his family arrived.
Chief Matt Birch of the Reno Police Department said “This is one of the more rewarding services law enforcement officers can provide. It was a very simple thing that led us to cross paths with Mr. Searer and we are all just grateful those paths crossed where they did so that he could be returned home safely. Officer Jernigan also did a great job of following a standard practice which led him to the discovery, and followed through by providing what help he could to a person and family in need.”