An assessment of AMBER Alert operations in Indian country has concluded that inadequacies in communications and information-management technology significantly hamper the ability of tribal law enforcement agencies to respond to reports of missing, abducted, and endangered children and other life-threatening emergencies.
Team members evaluated the ability of 13 tribal agencies to effectively process emergency calls, dispatch and monitor first responders, track information, and support investigative efforts. Conducted by Fox Valley Technical College and FirstPic Consulting, the assessment team used a combination of agency self-assessments, onsite inspection, interviews, and public records.
The evaluation covered tribal communities in New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Washington, Nebraska, Montana, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. The assessment produced the following findings:
Every tribal law enforcement agency participating in the assessment identified the improvement of communications and information-management technology as the most important factor in expanding their capability to respond to emergencies in their communities. More than 90 percent of funds requested by tribal communities with an AMBER Alert program are for improvements in this area.
Comprehensive interviews with tribal law enforcement personnel identified the following areas as the most important first steps in addressing these challenges.
Call-taker training also was cited as a significant need throughout Indian country. OJJDP has responded to this need by developing a program of instruction specially designed for emergency call takers in Indian country. The training program is scheduled to be launched in fall 2009.
Bilingual Training for U.S.-Mexico Border States Scheduled
In September, OJJDP in collaboration with Fox Valley Technical College will conduct bilingual training in El Paso, TX, for senior law enforcement professionals from the United States and Mexico to develop cooperative strategies, enhance working relationships, and improve the overall effort to recover missing, abducted, and endangered children in the U.S.-Mexico border region.
Participants will include the Governors of Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico (or their designees); the AMBER Alert coordinators from each of these States; government representatives from the six Mexican States that share the border with the United States; and a representative from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Simultaneous translation and written materials in English and Spanish will be provided. This bilingual effort is critical to child recovery efforts in the border region because of the differences in terminology used by law enforcement and government agencies in the United States and Mexico. Topics to be discussed during the training include legal issues between the United States and Mexico that impact missing children cases; child recovery efforts that are currently being implemented in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; the launch of the AMBER Alert program in the State of Baja California, Mexico; and the importance of collaboration with the Governors' offices in addressing child abduction issues in the U.S.-Mexico border region.
For additional information about AMBER Alert, please visit its Web site.