"Chip Alert" would cover older teens under Amber Alert Law
I bumped into Sherri Ellis on my way out of the Midlothian Family YMCA yesterday. Ellis is the executive director of the Midlothian Y and the mother of Chip Ellis, the young man who was shot and killed by a Midlothian High classmate in May of 2006. I had read in the Times-Dispatch earlier that Ellis is lobbying the General Assembly (HB2255) for a widening of the Amber Alert law to include any child who is still in secondary school. Chip was 18, a legal adult, when he was murdered and therefore would not have been covered under the Amber Alert system. There certainly are valid reasons legislators might oppose this broadening of the law, particularly the sticky area the law would get into if they were issuing the alert for a fully emancipated legal adult. However it makes common sense to expand this law. As Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police said in the T-D story: “If [a child] is still a high school student, they probably are still someone’s responsibility.”
Ellis told me the bill had just passed subcommittee. I asked if there was anyone I could contact to offer my support and she gave me three names and numbers, which I will now pass on to you:
Del. Beverly J. Sherwood
Del. Terry G. Kilgore
Del. William R. Janis
Of course, you can just go to the General Assembly's website and contact your own delegate.
This whole exchange took place while my little boy was holding the door open for Ellis. She thanked him and called him a gentleman and asked his name. I wondered what kind of woman lives through such a horror and not only finds the strength to get out of bed in the morning but battles on for the sons and daughters of other mothers, like me. There is no telling whether an expanded Amber Alert would have changed Chip Ellis’ fate, but that doesn’t seem to be Sherri Ellis’ point. As she said to me, pointing to my son, “It’s going to benefit these guys.” And there was my answer. That kind of woman.