Posts Tagged ‘AMBER Alert System’

In a recent article about the tragic deaths of two little boys in Illinois there was this quote concerning the use of an AMBER Alert. An alert was initially issued but later rescinded.

“We don’t want to desensitize the public by using it needlessly,” said Robert Hover of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “We want to protect the program, but obviously the scales should always tip in favor of the child.”

There are approximately 116 different Amber Alert systems with the criteria for activating an AMBER Alert often varying between jurisdictions (State/Regional/Local).

There is a primary AMBER Alert which law enforcement issues, typically via the Highway Patrol for each state, followed by a redistributed one to secondary distributors such as online service providers and wirelss carriers. The information is then sent to media affiliates designated as primary stations under the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The primary stations send the same information to area radio and television stations and cable systems via the EAS, and it is then immediately broadcast by participating stations. The secondary alert may be delayed based on how quickly the redistribution takes place or who is responsible for the process. For example, Texas uses Beyond Missing for alerts while other states may use the NCMEC. Visit each site and you are likely to see different active AMBER Alerts. Some use secondary providers such as Code AMBER, or AMBERAlert but, depending on your State’s participation, you may or may not receive the alert.
Many States have passed Silver Alert, Gold Alert and Blue Alerts with all using some components of the AMBER Alert system; media outlets, highway signs, electronic billboards. If the concern is protecting the program, why the alerts? In most States, more Silver Alerts are anticipated to be issued than AMBER Alerts annually due to more lenient criteria.

Missing or endangered child alerts are issued almost daily throughout the country but you seldom hear about the child. It may account for why there are so many unsolved missing children cases listed at the NCMEC. There is currently an Endangered Alert from Code Amber News Service (CANS), (a secondary provider of alerts)  for missing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu but it is important to note that it is not an AMBER Alert. There may be currently active alerts which are not on the Code Amber Ticker.

East Texas implements new Amber Alert program

TYLER, Texas — East Texas law officers have a new Amber Alert system to use when a child goes missing from their area.

Under the regional system, officers can send information about child abductions to a center in Longview, which will then dispatch the information to radio and television stations via the Emergency Alert System. The regional system to be used in 14 counties supplements the statewide Amber Alert program. Seventeen other regional systems have been established in Texas.

For the statewide system to be activated, detectives must believe the child is in danger of serious injury or death. In the regional system, officers can also consider whether a child might be a sexual assault victim, under the age of 14 or with a nonfamily member who is at least three years older.

Supporters say the new system is faster than the state Amber Alert program, which filters information through Austin, then through the governor’s division of emergency management before it is determined if an alert is warranted. The alerts are then issued through the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“The state system may take an hour or more to do, and, by that time, someone from Longview would be in Louisiana,” Harry Goodan, training coordinator at the Longview Public Safety Communications Center, said in a story for Wednesday’s online edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.



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Nationwide or National AMBER Alerts
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Silver Alert or Amber Alert


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When President Bush signed the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today PROTECT Act into law in April 2003, it statutorily established the national AMBER Alert™ Coordinator role. Why is there an AMBER Alert Coordinator position if apparently it remains open?

States’ Amber Alert rules vary widely despite federal law aimed at uniformity

“There will never be a federal Amber czar,” said Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department who nevertheless spends part of his time as national coordinator for the Amber Alert network. He’s the third person to fill that role since the position was created five years ago.


You often hear of Nationwide AMBER Alerts being issued but if they are, who makes the decision to activate them?

The National AMBER Alert coordinator is responsible for assisting state and local officials with developing and enhancing AMBER plans, and promoting statewide and regional coordination among plans. The AMBER Alert coordinator is tasked to:

  • Facilitate AMBER network development
  • Support development of state AMBER plans and efforts
  • Help eliminate geographic gaps in AMBER networks
  • Provide regional AMBER network coordination
  • Establish guidance on criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert


There is however a National Strategy according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

The National AMBER Alert Coordinator, in collaboration with a national advisory group, developed a strategy for supporting states and communities to strengthen the AMBER Alert System nationwide and increase the likelihood that abducted children will be recovered swiftly and safely. The three components of the national AMBER strategy are:

  • Assess Current AMBER Activity
    Determine number of local, statewide, and regional plans
    Compare plan operations and AMBER Alert criteria
    Evaluate available technology


  • Create a Coordinated AMBER Network
    Develop guidance on criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert
    Establish federal, state, and local partnerships
    Promote technological compatibility among communications systems


  • Communicate Lessons Learned
    Work with law enforcement and broadcasters on missing children issues and the proper issuance of AMBER Alerts
    Help states and communities develop and enhance their AMBER plans
    Raise public awareness on how to protect children and prevent abductions

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AMBER Alerts 2007
The debate continues over AMBER Alerts

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While you celebrate or observe St. Patrick’s Day, please be aware there are 99 reported missing children from Ireland listed at the ICMEC. There are two children of Irish Nationality listed at INTERPOL.

Joshua Manolache


Amy Fitzpatrick went missing New Year’s Day.

She left her friend’s house at 10pm on New Year’s Day but failed to make it home, a 20-minute walk away.

Amber Alert system for missing children

An Amber Alert system is to be set-up for missing children following a recommendation from the Garda Inspectorate.

Kathleen O’Toole said that when a child goes missing in high-risk circumstances it is vital that the gardaí can immediately get the assistance of key networks in alerting the community.

She said that much could be done to establish the system without incurring additional cost.

The ISPCC has welcomed the move but added that we also need to ensure that other mechanisms that are operational across Europe are used here, including the introduction of the 116 000 telephone number.

The number has been in place for more than two years in a number of European countries but not in Ireland.

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