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What happens during an Amber Alert?

Amber Alerts are only used for the most serious missing child cases when authorities believe a child is in imminent danger.
Missing Person

Amber Alerts are used by law enforcement to notify the public about missing children thought to have been abducted. 

Amber Alerts are only used for the most serious missing child cases when authorities believe a child is in imminent danger.

To activate an AMBER alert the child must be under 18 years of age, there must be a clear indication of abduction, the child's life must be in danger and  activation must be recommended by a local law enforcement agency.

Frequently Asked Questions

via Amberalert.gov

Where and why did AMBER Alert first start?

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 kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered. 

How does it work?

Once law enforcement has determined that a child has been abducted and the abduction meets AMBER Alert criteria, law enforcement notifies broadcasters and state transportation officials. 

AMBER Alerts interrupt regular programming and are broadcast on radio and television and DOT highway signs. AMBER Alerts can also be re-disseminated through lottery, digital billboards, Internet Ad exchanges, Internet Service Providers, Internet search engines, as well as wireless devices such as mobile phones.

How effective has it been?

As of April 2019, there have been 957 children successfully recovered through the AMBER Alert system.

Can AMBER Alerts be issued across state and jurisdictional lines?

Absolutely. When an AMBER Alert is issued an abductor may take the child outside the jurisdiction of the issuing law enforcement agency, crossing state boundaries. When that occurs, the AMBER Coordinator contacts the State AMBER Coordinator where the abducted child is believed to be and requests the AMBER Alert be extended into their jurisdiction. 

Are AMBER Alerts issued for all missing children?

AMBER Alerts are issued for abducted children that meet the AMBER Alert criteria. AMBER Alert is only one tool that law enforcement can use to find abducted children. AMBER Alerts are used in the most serious cases that meet the AMBER criteria. Overuse of AMBER Alert could result in the public becoming desensitized to Alerts when they are issued.

What can I do if my child goes missing?

If your child goes missing you should immediately contact your local law enforcement agency. After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). 

More information about available resources can be found at http://www.missingkids.org/MissingChild.

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