AMBER Alert Trainings Continue To Address Cross-Border Abductions

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OJJDP's AMBER Alert Southern Border Initiative held two bilingual trainings in Brownsville, TX; and El Paso, TX, on July 15–16 and 22–23, 2010, respectively. The trainings covered a wide range of topics, including reporting of missing children, effective strategies for responding to reports, human trafficking, investigative methods, and resources available to address cross-border child abductions. Law enforcement, public safety, and child protection professionals from the United States and Mexico received joint training on the issues and challenges associated with these types of abductions. Simultaneous translation and written materials in English and Spanish were provided. This bilingual effort is critical to child recovery efforts in the border region.

The initiative aims to improve communication and collaboration between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and child protection professionals and enhance public participation and notification in cases of child abduction. An advisory team composed of representatives from U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies, courts, tribal agencies, social service agencies, child protection organizations, and broadcast media is providing guidance for this project and is assisting in the development of Southern Border Initiative trainings.

The problem of cross-border abduction has reached alarming proportions. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Mexico is the destination for 47 percent of all international child abductions from the United States. OJJDP is addressing this problem through focused discussions, comprehensive training, and technical assistance.

Hundreds of local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement officers from the United States and Mexico met in El Paso, TX; and San Diego, CA, in February and August 2009, respectively, to train and discuss efforts to stop child abductions in both countries. In May 2009, the Attorney General for Baja California, Mexico, announced the first AMBER Alert Program in Mexico. A second state, Tamaulipas, appointed an AMBER Alert Coordinator immediately after the AMBER Alert Symposium in the fall of 2009. Since that time, training has been provided to all public agencies in Tamaulipas that handle child protection, health, and public safety. Future Southern Border Initiative training and technical assistance is planned for other states in the U.S.-Mexico border region.