matt popovich

Reading This Brief Post on the Amber Alert System Could Save a Life

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What is an Amber Alert?

The concept of an AMBER Alert was first introduced in 1996 after Dallas-Fort Worth area media cooperated with regional police to create a system to involve the public in searching for abducted children. Not long after, other regions began developing similar alert programs to aid with their missing children investigations, and the idea continued to spread from there.

The system was dedicated to the memory of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was violently killed after being abducted while riding her bike in her Texas neighborhood. And, the name AMBER is also an acronym that stands for America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response.

How does an Amber Alert work?

After police officials record that a child (under the age of 18) has been abducted, they must also verify the abduction meets the criteria set forth by their state’s guidelines.

These criteria usually include:

  • There is reason to believe the child is in danger of serious injury or death.
  • There is minimal information known about the suspect, such as description, type of vehicle, and/or name.
  • The child’s profile has been registered with the National Crime Information Center system (also known as NCIC).

If the case at hand does meet the state’s criteria, the alert is distributed via television and radio interruptions, digital highway signs, billboards, internet sources, and mobile phones and other gadgets.

Have Amber Alerts helped find missing kids?

Over 800 children have been returned thanks to the public’s diligent responses to Amber Alerts. It’s also been discovered that after Amber Alerts are transmitted, abductors sometimes opt to release the suspect as they realize their every move will be scrutinized by the public.

Is there a national Amber Alert system? Or is Amber Alert national?

Multiple states may cooperatively issue AMBER alerts, especially when there is a likelihood the abductor has taken the missing child across state lines. In this case, the initiating agency requests the alert be issued in other states.

How do missing children get entered into the Amber Alert system?

If a child is missing, a police report must be filed FIRST, before then reporting the case to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

How do I get Amber Alerts on my phone?

The Wireless Emergency Alert program,  maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), send digital notifications to phones and other electronic devices capable to receiving emergency messages. If you own a cell phone that has the capability to receive an Amber alert, your phone will emit an unusual signal and vibrate, followed by a 90 character message, if you are in an area impacted by an Amber Alert. In many cases, the content includes vehicle descriptions, license plates, and suspect descriptions.

The alerts are transmitted on a special wireless channel which does not charge recipients for the text and is not affected by congestion.

If you receive an Amber Alert notification on your phone, you can visit or for more information. It is often possible to search the name of the child and discover local media coverage about the case as well.

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