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Laura Bush and Rae Leigh Bradbury (formerly missing) on April 4, 2007, in Austin, Texas, after the 8-year-old introduced Mrs. Bush during announcement of the future opening of the Texas Regional Office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Rae Leigh was the first child in the U.S. to be recovered as a result of an AMBER Alert when she was 8 weeks old in November 1998.

An AMBER Alert or a Child Abduction Emergency (Morgan Chauntel Nick).

In the United States, AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, Internet radio, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio[4][5] (where they are termed "Child Abduction Emergency" or "Amber Alerts"). The alerts are also issued via e-mail, electronic traffic-condition signs, commercial electronic billboards,[6][7] or through wireless device SMS text messages. AMBER Alert has also teamed up with Google,[8] Bing,[9] and Facebook[10] to relay information regarding an AMBER Alert to an ever growing demographic: AMBER Alerts are automatically displayed if citizens search or use map features on Google or Bing. With the Google Child Alert (also called Google AMBER Alert in some countries), citizens see an AMBER Alert if they search for related information in a particular location where a child has recently been abducted and an alert was issued. This is a component of the AMBER Alert system that is already active in the US (there are also developments in Europe). Those interested in subscribing to receive AMBER Alerts in their area via SMS messages can visit Wireless Amber Alerts, which are offered by law as free messages.[11] In some states, the display scrollboards in front of lottery terminals are also used.

The decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by each state police or highway patrol) that investigates each of the abductions. 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.


  • Activation criteria 1
    • Incidents not meeting alert criteria 1.1
  • Amber Hagerman 2
  • Program development 3
    • United States 3.1
    • Canada 3.2
    • Mexico 3.3
    • International expansion 3.4
      • Australia 3.4.1
      • Europe 3.4.2
        • France
        • Ireland
        • Netherlands
        • United Kingdom
      • Malaysia 3.4.3
  • Retrieval rate 4
    • Controversies 4.1
  • False alarms 5
  • Effects on traffic 6
  • Influence 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Activation criteria

An example of a July 2010 Amber Alert from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where electronic LED billboards, such as this one in Sheboygan, Wisconsin owned by Lamar, are used to relay details of the incident to the public.
AMBER Alert displayed on cable TV by the Emergency Alert System. Generated via a R189 One-Net EAS device used by a NJ cable system.

The alerts are broadcast using the Emergency Alert System, which had previously been used primarily for weather bulletins, civil emergencies, or national emergencies.[12] Alerts usually contain a description of the child and of the likely abductor.[13] To avoid both false alarms and having alerts ignored as a "wolf cry", the criteria for issuing an alert are rather strict. Each state's or province's AMBER alert plan sets its own criteria for activation, meaning that there are differences between alerting agencies as to which incidents are considered to justify the use of the system. However, the U.S. Department of Justice issues the following "guidance", which most states are said to "adhere closely to" (in the U.S.):[14]

  1. Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place.
  2. The child must be at risk of serious injury or death.
  3. There must be sufficient descriptive information of child, captor, or captor's vehicle to issue an alert.
  4. The child must be under 18 years of age.[15]

Many law enforcement agencies have not used #2 as a criterion, resulting in many parental abductions triggering an Amber Alert, where the child is not known or assumed to be at risk of serious injury or death. In 2013, West Virginia passed Skylar's Law to eliminate #1 as a criterion for triggering an Amber Alert.

It is recommended that AMBER Alert data immediately be entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Crime Information Center. Text information describing the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the child should be entered, and the case flagged as child abduction.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP) requirements in Canada are nearly identical to the above list, with the exception that the RCMP instead of the FBI is normally notified.[16] One organization might notify the other if there is reason to suspect that the border may be crossed.

When investigators believe that a child is in danger of being taken across the border to either Canada or Mexico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, United States Border Patrol and the Canada Border Services Agency are notified and are expected to search every car coming through a border checkpoint. If the child is suspected to be taken to Canada, a Canadian Amber Alert can also be issued, and a pursuit by Canadian authorities usually follows.

Incidents not meeting alert criteria

For incidents which do not meet AMBER Alert criteria, the United States Department of Justice developed the Child Abduction Response Teams (CART) program to assist local agencies. This program can be used in all missing children's cases and can be used as part of an AMBER alert or when an abduction or disappearance does not meet AMBER Alert criteria. CART can also be used to help recover runaway children under the age of 18 and who are in danger. As of 2010, 225 response teams have been trained in 43 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Canada.[17]

Amber Hagerman

Amber Hagerman
Amber Hagerman in 1994
Born Amber Rene Hagerman
(1986-11-25)November 25, 1986
Arlington, Texas, US
Died January 17, 1996(1996-01-17) (aged 9)
Arlington, Texas, US
Cause of death Murder by stabbing
Parent(s) Donna Norris, Richard Hagerman

On January 13, 1996, nine-year-old Amber Rene Hagerman (November 25, 1986 – January 17, 1996) was abducted while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas.[18] A neighbor who witnessed the abduction called the police, and Amber's brother Ricky went home to tell his mother and grandparents what happened. On hearing the news, Amber's father Richard called Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly had been abducted and murdered in Petaluma, California on October 1, 1993.

Richard Hagerman and Amber's mother, Donna Whitson (now Donna Norris), called the news media and the FBI. The Whitsons and their neighbors began searching for Amber. Four days after the abduction, a man walking his dog found her body in a storm drainage ditch. Her killer has not been found, and her homicide remains unsolved.

Program development

Within days of Amber's death, Donna Whitson was "calling for tougher laws governing sex offenders".[19] Amber's parents soon established People Against Sex Offenders (P.A.S.O.). They collected signatures hoping to force the Texas Legislature into passing more stringent laws to protect children.

God's Place International Church donated the first office space for the organization, and as the search for Amber's killer continued, P.A.S.O. received almost-daily coverage in local media. Companies donated various office supplies, including computer and Internet service. Congressman

  • U.S. government AMBER alert site
  • Our Missing Children (Government of Canada)
  • Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on Amber Alert program technology
  • Child Rescue Alert – UK equivalent of Amber Alert
  • AMBER Alert Nederland site, the Dutch Amber alert
  • National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Rilya alert
  • AMBER Alert at Find a Grave
  • Crime Library on Amber Hagerman
  • Houston's Amber Plan

External links

  1. ^ " – Levi's Call". Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  2. ^ "MAILE AMBER Alert". Hawaii Department of Attorney General. 
  3. ^ "Morgan Nick Amber Alert". Arkansas State Police. 2006. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "NOAA Weather Radio Leads to Kentucky Amber Alert Success". 
  6. ^ "Newsroom - Walgreens Newsroom". 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Google Brings AMBER Alerts for Missing Children to Search and Maps". 
  9. ^ "NCMEC on Twitter". Twitter. 
  10. ^ "OJJDP News @ a Glance - January/February 2011". 
  11. ^ "Wireless AMBER Alerts". 
  12. ^ a b c d Irsay, Steve (August 5, 2002), Cold War technology helped save lives of abducted teens,, retrieved 2014-03-07 
  13. ^ a b "Senate approves national child abduction alert legislation",  
  14. ^ "Guidance on Criteria for Issuing AMBER Alerts" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice. April 2004. 
  15. ^ [3], HowStuffWorks "Getting the Word Out"
  16. ^ "AMBER Alert". Government of Canada Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 
  17. ^ "Frequently asked questions OJP" (PDF). 2010. 
  18. ^ "The Abductions That Changed America".  
  19. ^ "Mom says tougher laws needed", Houston Chronicle, January 20, 1996, retrieved August 8, 2008 
  20. ^ Kopenec, Stefani G. (January 12, 1997), "'"Young girl's kidnapper elusive: A year has passed without leads on 'low-life killer, Houston Chronicle, retrieved August 8, 2008 
  21. ^ Wheeler, C.J. (January 12, 1997), "Launched the first ever Amber Alert in Dallas Texas. Worked closely with the parents of Amber Hagerman and other Texas Radio and TV stations to create a public alert when a child has been abducted. The idea spread nationwide.", Mandy, retrieved October 8, 2013 
  22. ^ "Parents push for sex offender registry: Family of slain girl fights for new bill", Houston Chronicle, June 20, 1996, retrieved August 8, 2008 
  23. ^ a b Lawmakers push national Amber alert system,, September 4, 2002, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  24. ^ Bumiller, Elizabeth (October 3, 2002), "Bush Unveils Upgrade of Amber Alert System", The  
  25. ^ House Passes Amber Alert Measure,, October 8, 2002, retrieved 2002-08-08 
  26. ^ or ``PROTECT Act""Public Law 108 - 21 - Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 . 
  27. ^ Mainelli, Tom (November 21, 2002), "AOL Puts AMBER Alert Service Online",  
  28. ^ "Frequently asked questions" (pdf). Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  29. ^ "Amber Alert – WEI Information". Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  30. ^ a b "Alberta launches 'Amber Alert' kidnap system". December 3, 2002. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  31. ^ B.C., N.S. to begin using 'Amber Alert' system,, May 25, 2004, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  32. ^ "La police des". 
  33. ^
  34. ^ Ontario extends Amber Alert to lottery terminals,, April 4, 2005, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ "El Universal - - México, en red de alerta para extraviados". 18 June 2013. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ Waters, Jeff (2005-05-13), Amber Alert, Stateline Queensland, retrieved 2008-09-06 
  40. ^ a b c AMBER Alert Europe (21 March 2013). "AMBER Alert Europe Launches EU Wide Child Rescue Alert Platform". 
  41. ^ "AMBER Alert Europe - About us". 
  42. ^ "Has anyone seen my child?". euronews. 
  43. ^ "AMBER Alert Europe - Components AMBER Alert system: Google Child Alert, email, apps, PC screensaver, …". 
  44. ^ "EU Amber Alert vanwege vermissing". 
  45. ^ "Belgische experts en FBI helpen Nederlandse politie bij zoektocht naar broertjes". 
  46. ^ "Vater tot, Kinder vermisst - Zeitgeschichtliches Archiv -". 
  47. ^ "Cookiewall: Cookies op de Volkskrant - de Volkskrant". 
  48. ^ (25 May 2012)Abducted Child Alert System Begins
  49. ^ Irelands First Amber Alert-
  50. ^ a b "Amber Alert". 
  51. ^ a b "Netherlands - AMBER Alert". 
  52. ^ Ernst Hirsch Ballin
  53. ^ "Netpresenter – The Attention Management Experts -". Netpresenter - The Attention Management Experts. 
  54. ^ "ANP Pers Support - #1op10 actie groot succes: 1.926.572 aanmeldingen voor AMBER Alert!". 
  55. ^ "Tien miljoen mensen zien Amber Alert". NU. 
  56. ^ "Toeristen opgelet: opsporing sekstoerisme". RTL Nieuws. 
  57. ^ Crowdsourcing
  58. ^ "Child kidnap alerts on TV as UK adopts the 'Amber Alert' system". London: MailOnline. April 2, 2007. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  59. ^ "Child Rescue Alert". National Policing Improvement Agency. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  60. ^ Knickerbocker, Brad (11 August 2013). "Amber Alerts: How successful have they been in saving abducted kids?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  61. ^ Hargrove, Thomas (July 17, 2005). "False alarms endangering future of Amber Alert system". Scripps Howard News Service. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  62. ^ "The Amber Alert system is more effective as theater than as a way to protect children - The Boston Globe". 
  63. ^ [4]
  64. ^ "A Preliminary Examination of AMBER Alert's Effects". 
  65. ^ Griffin, T.; Miller, M. K.; Hoppe, J.; Rebideaux, A.; Hammack, R. (1 December 2007). "A Preliminary Examination of AMBER Alert's Effects". Criminal Justice Policy Review 18 (4): 378–394.  
  66. ^ Griffin, T.; Miller, M. K. (1 June 2008). "Child Abduction, AMBER Alert, and Crime Control Theater". Criminal Justice Review 33 (2): 159–176.  
  67. ^ "Wake-Up Call for New Yorkers as Police Seek Abducted Boy", NY Times
  68. ^ Quintana, Chris (1 December 2013). "Overuse, false alarms threaten impact of Amber Alert". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  69. ^ "Do Amber Alerts Put Drivers in Jeopardy?". latimes. 
  70. ^ "Traffic Jams Prompt Amber Alert Shut-Off in L.A.". latimes. 
  71. ^
  72. ^ "U.S. Postal Service issues new stamp promoting social awareness". United States Postal Service. 
  73. ^ Amber Alert Stamp
  74. ^ Lita Beck (April 21, 2009). "Comic Book Hero Takes on Real Life Murder Case". Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. 


See also

A comic book entitled Amber Hagerman Deserves Justice: A Night Owl Story was published by Wham Bang Comics in 2009. Geared toward a young audience by teen author Jake Tinsley and Manga artist Jason Dube, it tells Amber's story, recounts the investigation into her murder, and touches on the effect her death has had on young children and parents everywhere. The comic book was created to promote what was then a reopened investigation into the Arlington murder.[74]

In 2006, a TV movie, Amber's Story, was broadcast on Lifetime. It stars Elisabeth Röhm and Sophie Hough.

The United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp commemorating AMBER Alerts in May 2006. The 39-cent stamp features a chalk pastel drawing by artist Vivienne Flesher of a reunited mother and child, with the text "AMBER ALERT saves missing children" across the pane. The stamp was released as part of the observance of National Missing Children's Day.[72][73]


Many states have policies in place that limit the use of AMBER alerts on freeway signs. In Los Angeles, an AMBER alert issued in October 2002 that was displayed on area freeway signs caused significant traffic congestion. As a result, the California Highway Patrol elected not to display the alerts during rush hour, citing safety concerns.[70] The state of Wisconsin only displays AMBER alerts on freeway signs if it is deemed appropriate by the transportation department and a public safety agency. AMBER alerts do not preempt messages related to traffic safety.[71]

AMBER alerts are often displayed on electronic message signs. The Federal Highway Administration has instructed states to display AMBER alerts on highway signs sparingly, citing safety concerns from distracted drivers and the negative impacts of traffic congestion.[69]

An electronic traffic-condition sign displaying an AMBER Alert.

Effects on traffic

Advocates for missing children are concerned that the public is becoming desensitized to AMBER Alerts because of a large number of false alarms, where police issue an AMBER Alert without strictly adhering to the U.S. Department of Justice's activation guidelines.[68]

False alarms

The 4 a.m. timing of a July 2013 New York child abduction alert sent through the Wireless Emergency Alerts system raised concerns that many cellphone users will now disable WEA alerts.[67]

Griffin considers his findings preliminary, reporting his team examined only a portion of the Amber Alerts issued over the three-year period they focused on, so he recommends taking a closer look at the evaluation of the program and its intended purpose, instead of simply promoting the program.

Because the system is publicly praised for saving lives despite these limitations, Griffin and Miller argue that AMBER Alert acts as "crime control theater" in that it "creates the appearance but not the fact of crime control".[66] AMBER Alert is thus a socially constructed "solution" to the rare but intractable crime of child-abduction murder. Griffin and Miller have subsequently applied the concept to other emotional but ineffective legislation such as safe-haven laws and polygamy raids, and continue their work in developing the concept of "crime control theater" and on the AMBER Alert system.

Griffin and coauthor Monica Miller articulated the limits to AMBER Alert in a subsequent research article. They stated that alerts are inherently constrained, because to be successful in the most menacing cases there needs to be a rapid synchronization of several events (rapid discovery that the child is missing and subsequent alert, the fortuitous discovery of the child or abductor by a citizen, and so forth). Furthermore, there is a contradiction between the need for rapid recovery and the prerogative to maintain the strict issuance criteria to reduce the number of frivolous alerts, creating a dilemma for law enforcement officials and public backlash when alerts are not issued in cases ending as tragedies. Finally, the implied causal model of alert (rapid recovery can save lives) is in a sense the opposite of reality: In the worst abduction scenarios, the intentions of the perpetrator usually guarantee that anything public officials do will be "too slow."

Some outside scholars examining the system in depth disagree with the "official" results.[62][63][64] A research team led by criminologist Timothy Griffin reviewed hundreds of abduction cases that occurred between 2003 and 2006 and found that AMBER Alerts actually had little apparent role in the eventual return of abducted children. The AMBER Alerts tended to be "successful" in relatively mundane abductions, such as when the child was taken by a noncustodial parent or other family member. There was little evidence that AMBER Alerts routinely "saved lives", although a crucial research constraint was the impossibility of knowing with certainty what would have happened if no alert had been issued in a particular case.[65]


Seventy of the 233 AMBER Alerts issued in 2004 (30%) were actually children taken by strangers or who were unlawfully travelling with adults other than their legal guardians.[61]

A Scripps Howard study of the 233 AMBER Alerts issued in the United States in 2004 found that most issued alerts did not meet the Department of Justice's criteria. Fully 50% (117 alerts) were categorized by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as being "family abductions", very often a parent involved in a custody dispute. There were 48 alerts for children who had not been abducted at all, but were lost, ran away, involved in family misunderstandings (for example, two instances where the child was with grandparents), or as the result of hoaxes. Another 23 alerts were issued in cases where police did not know the name of the allegedly abducted child, often as the result of misunderstandings by witnesses who reported an abduction.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, of the children abducted by strangers, 75% are killed within the first three hours in the USA.[12] Amber Alerts are designed to inform the general public quickly when a child has been kidnapped and is in danger so "the public [would be] additional eyes and ears of law enforcement".[12] As of August 2013, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 657 children have been successfully recovered as a result of the existence of the AMBER Alert program.[60]

Retrieval rate

In September 2007, Malaysia implemented the Nurin Alert. Based on the AMBER alert, it is named for a missing eight-year-old girl, Nurin Jazlin.


On April 1, 2007, the AMBER Alert system became active in Northwest England.[58] An implementation across the rest of Britain was planned at that time. This was realized on May 25, 2010 with the nationwide launch of the Child Rescue Alert, based on the AMBER Alert system. The first system in the UK of this kind was created in Sussex on November 14, 2002. This was followed by versions in Surrey and Hampshire. By 2005, every local jurisdiction in England and Wales had its own form of alert system.[59] The system was first used in the UK on October 3, 2012, with regard to missing 5 year-old April Jones in Wales.

United Kingdom
  1. The missing child has to be younger than 18 years;
  2. The life of the child is in imminent danger, or there is fear he/ she will be seriously injured;
  3. There is enough information about the victim to increase the chance of the child being found by means of an AMBER Alert, such as a photo, information about the abductor or a vehicle used;
  4. The AMBER Alert must be used as soon as possible after the abduction or the child going missing has been reported.[50]

An AMBER Alert is issued when a child is missing or abducted and the Dutch police fears that the life or health of the child is in danger. The system enables the police to immediately alert press and public nationwide, by means of electronic highway signs, to TV, radio, social media, pop-up and screensavers on PC’s, large advertising screens (digital signage), e-mail, SMS text messages, apps, printable posters, RSS newsfeeds and website banners and pop-ups.[51] There are four key criteria in The Netherlands to be met before an AMBER Alert is issued:

Currently AMBER Alert has more than 2 million participants including thousands of large organizations.[54] In addition, the last AMBER Alert that was issued, was seen by more than 10 million Dutch citizens (75% of the Dutch population).[55] With a success rate of 64 percent,[56] the Dutch AMBER Alert system is an example case of effective citizen sourcing.[57]

The Dutch AMBER Alert was launched in 2008 by the Dutch National Police,[50] the Dutch minister of Justice at the time, Hirsch Ballin,[51][52] and social enterprise Netpresenter.[53] On February 14, 2009, the first Dutch AMBER Alert was issued when a 4-year-old boy in Rotterdam went missing. He was found soon, safe and sound, after he was recognized by a picture on an electronic billboard in a fast food restaurant. This happened so soon even the transmission of the AMBER Alert was stopped before all intended recipients had gotten it.


In April 2009, it was announced that an AMBER Alert system would be set up in Ireland, In May 2012, the Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alert was officially introduced.[48] Irelands first AMBER alert was issued upon the disappearance of two boys [49] Eoghan(10) and Ruari Chada(5).


In February 2006, France's Justice ministry launched an apparatus based on the AMBER alerts named Alerte-Enlèvement (abduction alert) or Dispositif Alerte-Enlèvement (abduction alert apparatus) with the help of most media and railroad and motorway companies.


The first cross-border AMBER Alert was issued in the early morning of the 8th of May 2013 for two Dutch brothers. The boys' photo was displayed on large screens in the Belgian province of Limburg and in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and has received extensive media attention in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The bodies of the children have been found at 19 May 2013 near Cothen (the Netherlands).[44][45][46][47]

An AMBER Alert reaches millions of people within minutes. When an AMBER Alert is issued by the police, the picture of the AMBER Alert child is instantly visible everywhere via dozens of different media. The AMBER Alert system exists out of the following components: TV and radio, highway signs, Google Child Alert (also called Google AMBER Alert some countries – already active in the US; there are developments in Europe), missing children maps with active AMBER Alerts and endangered missing children, online banners and advertisements, large TV screens, SMS-text messages with photo, PC pop-ups, Facebook, Twitter, apps, website pop ups and banners, Pc screensaver, e-mail, posters, RSS news feed, mobile websites, screens in public transport (buses and trains), screens in railway stations, airports, shopping malls, supermarkets and cinemas.[43]

AMBER Alert Europe offers an EU wide response to the EU objective (DG Justice) on Child Alerts, which states that an early warning system for child abductions, with cross-border interoperability, should be established in all 28 EU countries. The technology currently being used by AMBER Alert Europe builds on the technology already used in the Netherlands for the Dutch AMBER Alert plan since 2008.[40]

  1. Creating a child rescue alert system for EU countries that do not yet have one, and further strengthen the different child alert initiatives that already exist in EU member states;
  2. Linking all child alert systems present in Europe, using international alerting standards and the child alert best practices set by the European Commission;
  3. Starting by mapping all missing children in Europe;
  4. Using the EU citizenry's situational awareness and willingness to help (citizen sourcing) in order to help rescue the approximately one million children that go missing in the EU every year.[42]
  5. Allowing for the quick issuing of cross border alerts when a child goes missing near an EU border;
  6. Allowing for easy cross language border alerting, through automatic translation of the missing child poster.[40]

The aim of AMBER Alert Europe is to rescue children during the first hours after their abduction or after becoming the victim of human trafficking. AMBER Alert Europe does this by:

At present, there are alert systems working in 11 EU countries: Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Romania. Europe also has an official EU expert initiative on Child Rescue Alerts: the AMBER Alert Europe Initiative. This initiative has the purpose to establish EU-wide cross border alerts for abducted children.[40][41]


The Australian state of Queensland implemented a version of the AMBER Alerts in May 2005.[39]


International expansion

Mexico joined international efforts to spread the use of the AMBER alert at an official launch ceremony on April 28, 2011.[37][38]


After the abduction and murder of Victoria Stafford, an online petition was started by Suzie Pereira, a single mother of 2 children who gathered over 61,000 signatures, prompting a review of the Amber Alert. There was some concern regarding the strict criteria for issuing the alerts – criteria that was not met in the Stafford case – that resulted in an alert not being issued. Ontario Provincial Police have since changed their rules for issuing an alert from having to confirm an abduction and confirm threat of harm, to believe that a child has been abducted and believe is at risk of harm.[35][36]

Ontario furthered its reach beyond media and highway signs by offering Amber Alerts on the province's 9,000 lottery terminal screens.[34]


Since its introduction in Quebec, every AMBER alert has had positive results.[32][33]

Over the years, the program gathered more partners in order for the alert to be communicated on different media platforms. As in Ontario, lottery crown corporation, Loto-Québec puts to the disposition of the police forces their 8500 terminals located throughout the province. Some of these terminals are equipped with a screen that faces the customer which makes it the largest network of its kind to operate in Canada. The technology employed enables them to broadcast the message on the entire network in under 10 minutes. In addition, The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) offers to most Canadians, upon free subscription, the possibility to receive, via text message, on their mobile devices AMBER alert notices.

Once all 4 conditions are met, the police service may call an AMBER alert. Simultaneously, all of Quebec's Ministry of transport message boards will broadcast the police's messages. The Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) road traffic controllers also help with the search. Television and radio stations broadcast a description of the child, the abductor and/or the abductor's car. On the radio, the information is broadcast every 20 minutes for two hours or less if the child is found. On the television, the information is broadcast on a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen for two hours with no interruptions. After this, the ticker tape is withdrawn, but the police continue to inform the public through the usual means of communication.

  1. The missing person is a child under the age of 18.
  2. The police have reason to believe that the missing child has been abducted.
  3. The police have reason to believe that the physical safety or the life of the child is in serious danger.
  4. The police have information that may help locate the child, the suspect and/or the suspect's vehicle.

The program was introduced in Quebec on May 26, 2003. The name AMBER alert was then adapted in French to Alerte Médiatique But Enfant Recherché, which directly translates as "Media alert with the goal of recovering a child". In order to launch an AMBER alert, police authorities need to meet 4 criteria simultaneously and with no exceptions:


Translink, the corporation responsible for the regional transportation network of Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, displays Amber alerts on all their buses' digital signs reading "AMBER ALERT | Listen to radio | Bus #". Details of the Amber alert information are also available on screens at transit stations.

British Columbia

Canada's system began in December 2002, when Alberta launched the first province-wide system. At the time, Alberta Solicitor-General Heather Forsyth said "We anticipate an Amber Alert will only be issued once a year in Alberta. We hope we never have to use it, but if a child is abducted Amber Alert is another tool police can use to find them and help them bring the child home safely."[30] The Alberta government committed to spending more than CA$1 million to expanding the province's emergency warning system so that it could be used effectively for Amber Alerts.[30] Other Canadian provinces soon adopted the system, and by May 2004 Saskatchewan was the only province that had not established an Amber Alert system.[31] Within the next year, the program was in use throughout the country.


By 2005, all fifty states had operational programs and today the program operates across state and jurisdictional boundaries.[28] As of January 1, 2013, AMBER Alerts are automatically sent through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program.[29]

The alerts were offered digitally beginning in November 2002, when America Online began a service allowing people sign up to receive notification via computer, pager, or cell phone. Users of the service enter their ZIP code, thus allowing the alerts to be targeted to specific geographic regions.[27]

[26] A related bill finally became law in April 2003.[25] A similar bill passed the House several weeks later on a 390–24 vote.[24] By September 2002, 26 states had established AMBER Alert systems that covered all or parts of the state. A bipartisan group of US Senators, led by

In October 2000, the United States House of Representatives adopted H.Res. 605 which encouraged communities nationwide to implement the AMBER Plan. In October 2001, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that had declined to be a part of the Amber Alert in February 1996, launched a campaign to have AMBER Alert systems established nationwide. In February 2002, the Federal Communications Commission officially endorsed the system. In 2002, several children were abducted in cases that drew national attention. One such case, the kidnapping and murder of Samantha Runnion, prompted California to establish an AMBER Alert system on July 24, 2002.[12] According to Senator Dianne Feinstein, in its first month California issued 13 AMBER alerts; 12 of the children were recovered safely and the remaining alert was found to be a misunderstanding.[23]

United States

Following the automation of the AMBER Alert with ANS technology created by the Child Alert Foundation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) expanded its role in 2002 to promote the AMBER Alert, although in 1996 now CEO of the NCMEC declined to come in and help further the Amber Alert when asked to by Bruce Seybert and Richard Hagerman and has since worked aggressively to see alerts distributed using the nation's existing emergency radio and TV response network.

For the next two years, alerts were made manually to participating radio stations. In 1998, the Child Alert Foundation created the first fully automated Alert Notification System (ANS) to notify surrounding communities when a child was reported missing or abducted. Alerts were sent to radio stations as originally requested but included television stations, surrounding law enforcement agencies, newspapers and local support organizations. These alerts were sent all at once via pagers, faxes, emails, and cell phones with the information immediately posted on the Internet for the general public to view.

Whitson testified in front of the U.S. Congress in June 1996, asking legislators to create a nationwide registry of sex offenders. Representative Martin Frost, the Congressman who represents Whitson's district, proposed an "Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act." Among the sections of the bill was one that would create a national sex offender registry.[22]

In July 1996, Bruce Seybert and Richard Hagerman attended a media symposium in Arlington. Although Hagerman had remarks prepared, on the day of the event the organizers asked Seybert to speak instead. In his 20-minute speech, he spoke about efforts that local police could take quickly to help find missing children and how the media could facilitate those efforts. C.J. Wheeler, a reporter from radio station KRLD, approached the Dallas police chief shortly afterward with Seybert's ideas and launched the first ever Amber Alert.[21]


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