The AMBER Alert System began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnaped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, TX, and then brutally murdered. Other states and communities soon set up their own AMBER plans as the idea was adopted across the nation.

The Amber Alert is a critical missing child response program that utilizes the resources of law enforcement and media to notify the public when children are kidnapped by predators. Although the scope of the Amber Alert varies, the criteria for activation are fairly consistent:

  • The missing child is of a pre-determined age
  • The law enforcement agency believes the child has been kidnapped
  • The agency believes the missing child is under threat of serious bodily harm or death.

Besides turning the public into instant investigators when children are kidnapped, benefits of the Amber Alert include:

  • It is free
  • It encourages participation between natural adversaries, law enforcement and media by drawing on their inherent strengths
  • It promotes accountability by creating the foundation of a comprehensive missing child protocol
  • It is an effective time critical response to kidnappers who can disappear with children at the rate of a mile per minute
  • It sends a powerful message to wanna-be kidnappers that this is a community that cares about and protects children
  • It saves lives.

Because progress in the effort to recover kidnapped children is glacial, great ideas like the Amber Alert should be enthusiastically embraced, supported and promoted whenever possible. Had the Amber Alert existed when Polly was kidnapped in 1993, she might very well be alive today. Although law enforcement had her killer in their custody within sixty minutes of the crime, they helped him pull his car out of a ditch instead of arrest him because they were unaware that a child had been kidnapped.

Our goal is to protect every child with one of the most brilliant ideas yet devised in the battle to recover kidnapped children. So, in order to remain current we encourage law enforcement agencies, broadcast media and the public to provide updated information that we may include in our comparative analysis of the Amber Alert.

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