AMBER Alerts for Abducted Children Now Available on Facebook

Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson
Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson
At a news conference on January 12, 2011, Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and National AMBER Alert Coordinator, joined representatives of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Facebook as they announced a partnership to enable millions of Facebook users across the country receive AMBER Alerts via their accounts.

The AMBER Alert system issues media alerts when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts provide information about the child and the abductor that can lead to the child's recovery, such as a physical description of each and a description of the abductor's vehicle. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child. OJP manages the program with the support of OJJDP.

"These efforts demonstrate the high priority this Administration places on child protection," said Assistant Attorney General Robinson. "While we can't fulfill every parent's dream and completely insulate children, we can promote programs and partnerships that protect children and help bring them home."

Facebook users in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be able to sign up to receive AMBER alerts for their region. The alerts will be sent to them through Facebook's news feed. Users of the social networking site who wish to receive AMBER Alerts may sign up on Facebook.

Facebook's new main page for AMBER Alerts
Facebook's new main page for AMBER Alerts provides access to AMBER Alerts for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 U.S. territories. Facebook users may sign up to receive AMBER Alerts for their region.
The new Facebook pages will include one main page as well as 53 local pages, one for each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Facebook users will also be able to share the AMBER Alerts with their friends. There are more than half a billion Facebook users worldwide.

"The social media enables law enforcement to reach way beyond our normal footprint," said Col. Steven Flaherty, Superintendent, Virginia State Police, at the press conference. "I can only imagine and dream what we'll be able to accomplish with this new tool in our toolbox."

The press conference was held the day before the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, TX. Although her case has never been solved, it prompted the creation in 1996 of the national AMBER (America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert Program. Since that time, the program has grown into a network of 120 AMBER plans across the country. To date, the AMBER Alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 525 children.

Resources:

An archived video of the press conference is available on Facebook. To learn more about the partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice, NCMEC, and Facebook, go to the OJP Web site and read Assistant Attorney General Robinson's blog posting dated January 12, 2011.