The AMBER Alert Program began with the goal of instantly alerting communities when children go missing. The program facilitates a partnership between government entities, transportation agencies, broadcasting sources, and the wireless industry to spread the word in cases of child abduction. If a missing child case meets AMBER alert criteria, a state’s law enforcement agency notifies broadcasters and transportation officials, and the alerts interrupt regular radio and television programming, in addition to appearing on highway signs. Other channels for issuing AMBER alerts include the Internet, wireless devices, and lottery tickets.
Law enforcement agencies may also issue alerts across jurisdiction and state lines if they believe a child was taken to a different state or county. Although each state establishes its own criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts, the U.S. Department of Justice recommends using the program only when law enforcement confirms that the case involves an abduction, the child is at risk of serious injury or death, and there is sufficient descriptive information on the child or captor.
Limiting the AMBER Alert program’s use to confirmed cases of child abduction also prevents the public from becoming desensitized to missing child alerts. Since 2001, AMBER Alerts have helped save 540 children nationwide, and they continue saving lives. All 50 states have AMBER Alert plans, along with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
About the Author:
Granger Whitelaw, a serial entrepreneur based in Red Bank, New Jersey, contributed to the AMBER Alert program as an investor in its early developmental stages, and continues to support the program.