NEWS RELEASE ISSUED JANUARY 13, 2014 BY MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL
2014 National Amber Alert Day
Each year on January 13, Missouri, as well as the rest of the country, honors the importance of Amber Alerts on National Amber Alert Day. This year will mark the 18th anniversary of the creation of the Amber Alert System. The date is an important reminder to Missourians to stay vigilant and to make child protection a top priority. AMBER (which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) was created in 1996, when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with Texas police to develop an early warning system for finding abducted children. The program was soon adopted across the nation as a legacy to Amber Hagerman, the nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, TX, and then brutally murdered.
When a child is abducted, the greatest enemy of law enforcement is time. An Amber Alert warns the public immediately through the Emergency Alert System to be on the lookout for the missing child and the abductor.
One of the common misunderstandings of the Amber Alert System is the stringent criteria which must be met before the Alert can be issued. To qualify for an Amber Alert, there must be indication that an abduction has occurred; there must be sufficient details to make a public alert useful; the victim must be 17 years of age or younger; and there must be credible threat of serious harm or death to the victim. If an Amber Alert does not apply, an Endangered Persons Advisory (EPA) may be issued. An EPA alerts the media as well, but does not broadcast the information in a high alert fashion.
Amber Alerts are broadcast through a joint cooperative effort by the Patrol, the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri media, and via email and text messages to the public. Once it is determined an alert meets this criteria, the Patrol’s Troop F communications personnel issue the information to law enforcement and the media for immediate broadcast. MoDOT message boards along Interstate 70 and Interstate 44 play a vital role in dispersing the information via 48 permanent electronic message boards along Interstates 70 and 44.
For more information regarding Missouri’s Amber Alert System, please visit the Patrol’s website at www.mshp.dps.mo.gov or call the Missing Persons Unit at (573) 526-6178. Members of the public may also visit www.amberalert.gov to sign up to receive Amber Alerts via email or text message.
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