The nation's largest Internet service will begin transmitting Amber Alerts about abducted children onto the screens of computers, pagers and cell phones of some of the more than 26 million America Online subscribers in dozens of states and cities.
Beginning in early November, warnings issued across the communities that use the Amber Alert system will go to AOL users who request to receive them. All but one of the existing Amber Alert systems are participating with AOL.
Amber Alerts began in Arlington, Texas, after the 1996 abduction and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman. Law enforcement agencies send broadcasters descriptions of the missing children, their abductors or other information. The alerts are also broadcast on electronic highway signs.
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The AMBER Plan
The AMBER 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 missing 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.
- The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman 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.
- 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.
How Does the AMBER Plan Work?
- Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets the AMBER Plan’s criteria for triggering an alert.
- The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children suggests three criteria that should be met before an Alert is activated.
- Law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted.
- Law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction indicate that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help.
- Law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted.
- 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.
- Since the original AMBER Plan was established, 66 modified versions have been adopted at local, regional, and statewide levels.
AMBER Plans Nationwide
- Alabama, Tuscaloosa County – AMBER Plan
- Alabama, Dothan -- AMBER Alert Plan
- Arizona, statewide -- Arizona Child Abduction Alert Plan
- Arizona, Tucson (Pima County) – Missing Child Alert
- Arkansas, statewide – Morgan Nick Alert
- California, statewide – California Child Safety AMBER Network
- California, Corcoran – To Rescue Abducted Children Immediately (TRACI)
- California, Sacramento – Child Abduction Regional Emergency Alert (CARE)
- California, San Francisco -- Bay Area AMBER Alert Plan
- California, Orange County – Child Abduction Regional Emergency Alert (CARE)
- Connecticut, statewide – Connecticut AMBER Plan
- Colorado, statewide – Colorado AMBER Plan
- Florida, statewide – Florida Emergency Missing Child Alert (FEMA)
- Georgia, statewide – Levi's CALL
- Idaho, Boise -- AMBER Alert
- Idaho, Madison County -- AMBER Alert
- Illinois, Belleville – St. Louis Area Regional Abduction Alert
- Illinois, statewide – Illinois AMBER Plan
- Indiana, Portage -- Missing Child Alert Plan
- Indiana, southeastern – Child Abduction Alert Program (CAAP)
- Indiana, statewide -- AMBER Alert
- Indiana, Allen County -- AMBER Plan
- Kansas, statewide -- AMBER Plan
- Kansas, Topeka (Jefferson City) – AMBER Alert
- Kansas, Wichita – AMBER Alert
- Kentucky, northern – Child Abduction Alert Program (CAAP)
- Michigan, statewide – Michigan AMBER Alert
- Minnesota, statewide – Minnesota AMBER Alert
- Missouri, Kansas City – AMBER Alert
- Missouri, St. John – St. Louis Area Regional Abduction Alert
- Missouri, St. Louis – St. Louis Area Regional Abduction Alert
- Nebraska, statewide -- AMBER Plan
- Nevada, Reno – Krystal Child Abduction Alert Plan
- New Jersey, statewide -- AMBER Plan
- New Mexico, Albuquerque – AMBER Alert
- New Mexico, statewide -- AMBER Alert
- New York, Albany – Capital Region AMBER Alert
- New York, statewide – AMBER Alert
- North Carolina, Raleigh – NC Child Alert Notification System (NC CAN)
- North Carolina, Stokes County – AMBER Alert
- North Dakota, Fargo – JEANNA Alert
- Ohio, Cincinnati – Child Abduction Alert Program (CAAP)
- Ohio, Mid-Ohio Region – Mid-Ohio Stranger Abduction Alert
- Ohio, Tuscarawas County – AMBER Alert Plan
- Oklahoma, statewide – Oklahoma AMBER Plan
- Oregon, Lane County -- AMBER Plan
- Pennsylvania, statewide – AMBER Alert
- Rhode Island, statewide -- AMBER Alert
- South Carolina, Charleston – Low County AMBER Plan
- South Carolina, Columbia – Malcom Alert
- South Dakota, Yankton – AMBER Alert
- Tennessee, Memphis – AMBER Alert
- Texas, Amarillo – AMBER Alert
- Texas, Beaumont – Save Our Kids
- Texas, Dallas/Ft. Worth – AMBER Plan
- Texas, Houston – Houston Regional AMBER Plan
- Texas, Wichita Falls – AMBER Plan
- Texas, statewide – AMBER Alert Network
- Utah, statewide – Rachael Alert
- Virginia, Richmond – Richmond Regional AMBER Alert System
- Virginia, Roanoke – Roanoke Valley AMBER Alert
- Virginia, Spotsylvania – Lisk-Silva Alerts
- Washington D.C., Regional Metro – DC AMBER Plan (Metropolitan Regional Plan)
- Wisconsin, Green Bay – Green Bay AMBER Plan
- Wisconsin, Madison – AMBER Plan
Source: http://www.missingkids.org/ (The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Web site)