Ambert Alert Information

History of AMBER

What is the AMBER Alert Plan?

The AMBER Alert Plan is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS), formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System, to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor.

This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies. The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.

Why Was the AMBER Plan Created?

Amber Hagerman imageThe AMBER Alert Plan was created in 1997 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special "alerts" over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the future. In response to the community's concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law-enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that time is the enemy in child abductions.

How Does the AMBER Alert Plan Work?

Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets the AMBER Alert Plan's criteria for triggering an alert. Recognizing the importance of local determination of AMBER Alert criteria, while acknowledging the importance of consistency across the country to help ensure a smooth AMBER Alert system, the U.S. Department of Justice recommends the criteria listed below for AMBER Alert programs nationwide.

  • There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred
  • The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger
  • The law-enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child
  • The child's name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). If these criteria are met, alert information must be put together for public distribution.This information can include descriptions and pictures of the missing child, the suspected abductor, a suspected vehicle, and any other information available and valuable to identifying the child and suspect.

The information is then faxed to radio stations designated as primary stations under the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The primary stations send the same information to area radio and television stations and cable systems via the EAS, and it is immediately broadcast by participating stations to millions of listeners.

Radio stations interrupt programming to announce the Alert, and television stations and cable systems run a "crawl" on the screen along with a picture of the child. Some states are also incorporating electronic highway billboards in their Plans. The billboards, typically used to disseminate traffic information to drivers, now alert the public of abducted children, displaying pertinent information about the child, abductor or suspected vehicle that drivers might look for on highways.


Regional Names for the Amber

  • AlertGabriels Gifts - Houston's Regional Amber Alert
  • Levi's Call - Georgia's Regional Amber Alert
  • Rachel Alert - Utah's Regional Amber Alert
  • S.A.R.A.A - St. Louis Area Regional Abduction Alert
  • MAILE Alert - Honolulu Regional Amber Alert
  • Morgan Nick Alert - Arkansas Regional Amber Alert

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