What is AMBER Alert?
AMBER Alert is a voluntary partnership involving law enforcement
agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies. During an
AMBER Alert, an urgent news bulletin is broadcast over the airwaves
as well as on highway alert signs to enlist the aid of the public
in finding an abducted child and stopping the perpetrator.
AMBER Alert is based on the same concept used to alert the public
to a severe weather emergency. During an AMBER Alert, the Emergency
Alert System (EAS), formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System,
airs a description of an abducted child and suspected abductor.
The purpose is to instantly galvanize the entire community in the
search for and safe return of an abducted child.
Why was AMBER Alert created?
AMBER Alert was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to nine-year-old
Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped while riding
her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. Her brutal murder shocked and
outraged the entire community. Residents called radio stations
in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special alerts
over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents
in the future.
In response to the community's concern for the safety of
local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers
teamed up with local law enforcement agencies in northern Texas
and developed this innovative early warning system to help find
What is the goal of AMBER Alert?
|If we could have gotten the word out immediately when
Morgan disappeared, I'm certain she would be home with me
today. With the AMBER Alert plan, time is now on the side
of every parent and child. Colleen Nick (parent)
The goal of AMBER Alert is to recover abducted children before
they meet physical harm. Statistics show that time itself is the
enemy of an abducted child, because most children who are kidnapped
and later found murdered die within the first three hours after
AMBER Alert aims to turn that statistic around. Studies show that
when ordinary citizens become the eyes and ears of law enforcement,
precious lives can be saved.
What should I do in case of an AMBER Alert?
AMBER Alert encourages everyone to be on the lookout for the abducted
child and suspect. In the event that you spot a child, adult, or
vehicle fitting the AMBER Alert description, call 911 immediately
and provide authorities with as much information as possible.
Is the AMBER Alert used for all missing child cases?
AMBER Alerts are issued by a law enforcement agency in cooperation
with the media only if the circumstances surrounding a child's
disappearance meet local or state AMBER Alert criteria. If a case
does not meet the criteria, many other investigative tools will
be employed, such as tracking dogs, neighborhood canvasses, evidence
collection, and a check of the state sex offender registry. An
AMBER Alert is one of the tools in law enforcement's broader
child recovery strategy, and even though an AMBER Alert is not
issued, the media may be called upon to help with particular cases.
How can I find out more about AMBER Alert in my community?
For more information about the national AMBER Alert plan and to
find the name of your state AMBER Alert coordinator, visit the
Department of Justice's Web site at www.AMBERALERT.gov.
Note that each state or regional program has its own mechanism
for relaying AMBER Alerts to the public. Check with your coordinator
to find out more about AMBER Alert in your community.
What can I do in my community to further protect our children?
- Work with your local law enforcement agency to host a safety
seminar at your school, church, community center, civic organization,
or neighborhood group.
- Know who lives in your community: Each state tracks sex offenders.
Find out how to know who they are and where they live.
- Pay more attention to missing children flyers and notices in
stores and mail-outs.
- Keep current information and photos of your own children.
For more information about the AMBER Alert program, including
training, technical assistance, and laws, visit the U.S. Department
of Justice Web site at:
To report an emergency situation or to provide information about
a missing or exploited child, call 911 to notify your local police,
or call 800THELOST (8008435678)
To report information about child pornography, child molestation,
child prostitution, and the online enticement of children, log
on to the CyberTipline at:
For more information on missing and exploited children, visit
the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
AMBER Alert Saves Lives!
Calhoun, Georgia ( January 8, 2003)A man allegedly
murdered three former in-laws and his own 10-month-old daughter,
then abducted his two daughters, ages 3 and 4, and his stepdaughter,
age 10. He contacted his ex-wife, told her about the killings,
and threatened the lives of the girls. An AMBER Alert was
issued immediately. A motorist recognized the vehicle from
the Alert and contacted police. Authorities arrived quickly
at the scene, apprehended the suspect, and safely recovered
the three children.
Grants Pass, Oregon ( December 1, 2003)A man loaded
his two-year-old daughter into his vehicle, then went back
into the house. When he came back, both the vehicle and his
daughter were gone. The man contacted authorities and an
AMBER Alert was issued. An hour later, a woman spotted the
truck and used her mobile phone to dial 911. Police responded
immediately to the call and the child was safely recovered.
AMBER Alert work?
After law enforcement officials have been notified about
the abduction of a child, they must determine if the case
meets AMBER Alert's criteria for triggering an Alert.
The U.S. Department of Justice recommends the following
criteria for AMBER Alert programs nationwide:
- Law enforcement officials must have reason to believe
that an abduction of a child age 17 or younger has occurred.
- Law enforcement officials must believe that the abducted
child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or
- Enough descriptive information must exist about both
the victim and the abductor for an AMBER Alert to assist
in the recovery of the child.
- The child's name and other critical data, including the
child abduction (CA) flag, must be entered into the National
Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
If these criteria are met, Alert information will be put
together and faxed to area media outlets, where it will be
broadcast to millions of listeners. Radio stations will interrupt
their regular programming to announce the Alert, and television
and cable stations will run a "crawl" on the screen with
a picture of the child and a description of the suspected
abductor and vehicle.
Some states are also incorporating the use of electronic
highway billboards into their AMBER Alerts. These billboards,
typically used to warn drivers about upcoming traffic delays,
can alert the public to the plight of an abducted child by
displaying pertinent information about the victim, the abductor,
and the suspected vehicle that drivers can look for while
traveling the roadways.