Petito Family Helps Lawmakers Advocate for Gabby’s Law to Create Teal Alert

Nicole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, wipes away a tear during a press conference for SB117, a bill advocating for domestic violence protections, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.
Ryan Sun/The Deseret News via AP

New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) and State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) continued to advocate for bipartisan legislation for the passage of “Gabby’s Law” Wednesday morning, along with the support of Gabby Petito’s family.

The bill would require police to issue a Teal Alert for missing adults who are believed to be in danger. It was introduced last week in honor of Petito, a 22-year-old Long Island woman who was murdered by her boyfriend in the summer of 2021. 

“This shouldn’t be a partisan bill,” Flood said.  “It shouldn’t matter that it says Republican next to my name. This is a bill that could save the lives of New Yorkers and could help New Yorkers save the lives of other potential victims nationwide.”

A Teal Alert would be similar to current missing person’s laws in place such as an Amber or Silver Alert, but this would be specifically designated to missing adults aged 18-64 and/or victims of domestic abuse.

A statement from the Petito family read, “All of you have the ability to improve the safety of your constituents and the approval of this bill will only serve to strengthen the cause of bringing our loved ones home quickly and safely. We ask that you not delay, but act swiftly to approve this bill.”

As of today, there are over 1,000 reported people missing and close to 1,500 unidentified persons in New York State, per the family’s statement.

“Every year, there’s more than 20,000 phone calls placed in domestic violence hotlines nationwide,” Flood said. “We have this bill, and this could potentially help save lives.”

Both legislators argued the fact that missing person alert systems are already in place, and an additional bill would only be another tool to “heighten awareness” and “save lives”.

“This is something that everyone can get behind,” Palumbo said. “Minimal cost, protects a vulnerable class and is about victims.”

Palumbo added that the bill has not been brought to senate leadership yet, but he plans to “move the [process] along.”