Consensus of Broadcast Media
Media representatives who assisted in the development of this
guide say that broadcasters who agree to provide immediate response
during AMBER Alerts need a reasonable expectation that their partner
agencies will fulfill all of their responsibilities in accordance
with the activation plan. Some of these responsibilities can be
detailed in MOU agreements.
Confidence in the AMBER Alert system will be ensured if everyone
in the partnership agrees to the following:
- Law enforcement will request an EAS activation to alert the
public only when all previously established criteria have been
- Law enforcement officials will provide complete, thorough
information that is not legally prohibited and does not jeopardize
the integrity of an investigation.
- Law enforcement officials will recognize broadcasters' responsibility
to provide the public with accurate, thorough information and
to question any and all speculative reports as part of their
- Law enforcement officials will quickly terminate an AMBER
Alert when the threat is no longer imminent or apparent.
- Department of Transportation officials will provide timely
information on road signs and will direct drivers to tune in
to other sources for more detailed information.
- News staff at other broadcast stations, cable outlets, and
newspapers will be able to obtain the same immediate information
for dissemination purposes.
- The system for immediate, simultaneous dissemination (be it
EAS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, phone,
fax, e-mail, or some combination of these) will be detailed in
- The AMBER Alert message will include a phone number for the
public to call.
- Law enforcement and other authorities, such as 911 centers,
will provide a method for handling the tips and inquiries called
in to the phone number once an AMBER Alert has been activated.
- EAS activation will protect the integrity of the AMBER Alert
system by preventing false or other misleading transmission of
information to the media that would result in the public becoming
desensitized or even misled. The system for protection should
include special codes and privileged activation transmissions
among plan partners.
- Activation of an AMBER Alert over the EAS will not prevent
news organizations, including stations airing AMBER Alerts, from
using Alert information for legitimate news purposes.
- Information gleaned by legitimate news operations but not
provided in the AMBER Alert announcement will be disseminated
to the public in normal news reports. Nothing will be added to
the official EAS AMBER Alert message.
- Law enforcement will establish procedures for making information
available to the following entities before issuing an
Alert: media outlets; other law enforcement agencies such as
the FBI (NCIC), National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
(NCMEC), and state clearinghouses; and secondary distributors.
- Law enforcement agencies and broadcasters will agree to make
equipment and personnel available for periodic tests of the system
used for broadcasting the Alert.
Verification of Information
The media understands that AMBER Alert situations are fluid and
will change minute by minute. Therefore, the media has a right
to expect law enforcement officials to be accessible and provide
a method for reporters to verify information gathered during normal
newsroom operations. Law enforcement will find it counterproductive
to request an AMBER Alert if no provision is made to communicate
with reporters who have legitimate news questions or even information
A mechanism should be in place for reporters to communicate to
law enforcement any unexpected needs that could arise once an AMBER
Alert has been requested. MOU agreements must be flexible enough
to address issues that arise.