The USA Today is reporting a story which on the surface appears to be a major announcement. How much difference will it really make?
The nation’s 43,000 airport security screeners will get notices and photos of abducted children as part of the AMBER Alert network’s quest to find missing people, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday.”
“This can be tremendously effective,” said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which helps disseminate the alerts. “You’re talking about 43,000 TSA officers around the country.”
Do you recall in 2001 when the City of Tampa, hosting the Super Bowl, tried to use facial recognition systems? They installed video cameras along Ybor City’s streets to snap pictures of the faces in the crowd? Those images were compared to a database of 30,000 people that included runaway teen-agers and people wanted on criminal charges. The system’s use was immediately attacked by the ACLU and eventually abandoned. Would this technology not be more effective then human screeners?
“TSA screeners check 2 million people a day at about 450 commercial airports around the USA”.
Stop and think when was the last time you saw an Amber Alert activated and the child was found at an airport? Bus stations most definitely but at an airport? In most family abductions, probably the most likely group to travel via air, an Amber Alert will not even be issued based on the current criteria. The TSA numbers appear impressive until you compare them to a program Wal-Mart implemented whose stores have considerably more traffic per week.
Wal-Mart Foundation“…Since 1996, Wal-Mart has posted pictures of missing children in the lobbies of all of our facilities. The display boards have featured more than 7,104 children, more than 5,568 of whom have been recovered. From this number, 141 children have been recovered as a direct result of our bulletin boards…”
100 million: The number of people who shop at Wal-Mart’s 3400 American stores every week.