City set for AMBER alerts

Published 5:10 am Monday, January 19, 2004

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
The first three hours after the abduction of a child are critical, according to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, because 74 percent of abducted children who are murdered die within that short time period.
AMBER Alert is a partnership between law enforcement and broadcasters to aid in the recovery of abducted children during those critical early hours.
The AMBER Alert system began in 1996 in Texas as a community response to the kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman. AMBER is an acronym for "America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response."
The purpose of the system is to increase the chances of a quick recovery of the child by capturing the attention of all viewers and listeners in the state.
With the public's help in child abduction situations, law enforcement has "many eyes and ears" on the look out for the child and the abductor, said Lt. Randy Nicholson with the Brewton Police Department. "The main thing is getting the proper info -- good descriptions of the child, their clothing, the abductor and the abductor's vehicle."
Before AMBER Alert, only law enforcement would have been notified in the case of an abducted child, Nicholson said.
To participate in the AMBER Alert program, law enforcement agencies must complete the following actions:
The Brewton Police Department meets the above criteria and is qualified to issue an alert if a situation in Brewton warrants it.
The criteria to determine if an AMBER alert is warranted include the following:
Descriptive information about the abducted child and the suspected abductor is put together to be distributed. It is first faxed to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Montgomery, and then DPS distributes the information through the Emergency Alert System to all radio and television broadcasters in the state.
Each broadcaster determines how often the alert will be broadcast, but the suggested frequency is every 30 minutes for the first three hours after the abduction occurs. Once the child is located, the law enforcement notifies DPS and then DPS sends another announcement through the Emergency Alert System.

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