Child Safety

What is AMBER Alert?

America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response

AMBER Alert is a voluntary partnership involving law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies. During an AMBER Alert, an urgent news bulletin is broadcast over the airwaves as well as on highway alert signs to enlist the aid of the public in finding an abducted child and stopping the perpetrator.

AMBER Alert is based on the same concept used to alert the public to a severe weather emergency. During an AMBER Alert, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System, airs a description of an abducted child and suspected abductor. The purpose is to instantly galvanize the entire community in the search for and safe return of an abducted child.

Why was AMBER Alert created?

AMBER Alert was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. Her brutal murder shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents called 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.

What is the goal of AMBER Alert?

The goal of AMBER Alert is to recover abducted children before they meet physical harm. Statistics show that time itself is the enemy of an abducted child, because most children who are kidnapped and later found murdered die within the first three hours after being taken.

AMBER Alert aims to turn that statistic around. Studies show that when ordinary citizens become the eyes and ears of law enforcement, precious lives can be saved.

What should I do in case of an AMBER Alert?

AMBER Alert encourages everyone to be on the lookout for the abducted child and suspect. In the event that you spot a child, adult, or vehicle fitting the AMBER Alert description, call 911 immediately and provide authorities with as much information as possible.

Is the AMBER Alert used for all missing child cases?

AMBER Alerts are issued by a law enforcement agency in cooperation with the media only if the circumstances surrounding a child's disappearance meet local or state AMBER Alert criteria. If a case does not meet the criteria, many other investigative tools will be employed, such as tracking dogs, neighborhood canvasses, evidence collection, and a check of the state sex offender registry. An AMBER Alert is one of the tools in law enforcement's broader child recovery strategy, and even though an AMBER Alert is not issued, the media may be called upon to help with particular cases.

What can I do in my community to further protect our children?

  • Work with your local law enforcement agency to host a safety seminar at your school, church, community center, civic organization, or neighborhood group.
  • Know who lives in your community: Each state tracks sex offenders. Find out how to know who they are and where they live.
  • Pay more attention to missing children flyers and notices in stores and mail-outs.
  • Keep current information and photos of your own children.

A Child is Missing Alert Program

Police departments all across the country are confronted with missing individuals on a daily basis. Children, the elderly (often suffering from Alzheimer’s), mentally or physically challenged or disabled persons, as well as college students and others, at times go missing and the initial public safety response is critical. The early search and recovery efforts can make the difference.

Through high-tech telephony and computer mapping, the ACIM Alert Program has the capacity to place up to 1,000 calls in less than sixty seconds to the area where the missing person(s) was last seen or is believed to be located. This technology can also assist public safety in situations involving school lockdowns/evacuations, fugitives on the run, jailbreaks, and other issues critical to the safety of the entire community.

In July, 2006 the Fernandina Beach Police Department joined thousands of other law enforcement agencies around the country by contracting (at no cost to taxpayers) with the ACIM Alert Program.

ACIM Press Release