AMBER Alert

From Academic Kids

In the USA and Canada, an AMBER Alert is a notification to the general public, by various media outlets, that a confirmed abduction of a child has happened. AMBER is an acronym for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response," and was named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas in 1996.

AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio, broadcast television, e-mail, electronic traffic-condition signs, and wireless device SMS text messages. The decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by the police organization investigating the abduction. Public information in an AMBER Alert usually consists of the name and description of the abductee, a description of the suspected abductor, and a description and license plate number of the abductor's vehicle (if available).

Although each regional AMBER Alert sets the criteria for activation, most alerts follow the following guidelines:

  1. The missing child is 17 years of age or younger and the law enforcement agency believes the child has been abducted.
  2. The agency believes the missing child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
  3. A law enforcement investigation has taken place that verified the abduction or eliminated alternative explanations.
  4. Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the child, suspect, and/or the suspect's vehicle.

History

After Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered, citizens of her community learned that local law enforcement had information that might have helped locate her shortly after she was abducted, but had no means to distribute this information.

Richard Hagerman (Amber's father), Bruce Siebert, and Ray Roberts approached local law enforcement agencies and Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters to encourage them to form a voluntary association whereby information about a child abduction could be quickly broadcast to the child's community so that the community could help look for the abducted child. This alert system, the nation's first, was put into operation in Arlington in the summer of 1997. It was modeled after Texas tornado and hazardous weather alerts and used the existing emergency radio and TV response network. Various U.S. states and communities followed suit, developing similar systems named after Amber Hagerman.

On April 30, 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law the Amber Alert Bill requiring the creation of a national child abduction response network.

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