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Things you should know about Alabama’s Amber Alert Plan

Many stations have been doing stories about the Amber Alert plan in Alabama in the wake of recent tragic events. Some of the information reported in the last week referenced parts of the national plan, not the state plan. And, in many instances, the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert was not cited at all.

If you are doing stories on the this program, please make sure you help the public understand its purpose and how the process works.  Sadly, many local law enforcement agencies aren’t aware of this information, either.



Criteria to be met before the activation of the AMBER Child Abduction Alert

The Alabama AMBER plan will be set in motion for the state by one of the cooperating law enforcement agencies when a child abduction is reported and investigation reveals that:

  1. A child has been abducted as defined by 13A-6-40 Alabama Criminal Code, AND;
  2. The child is less than 18 years old, AND;
  3. The child is at risk of serious bodily harm or death, AND;
  4. There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help investigators locate the child.
  5. The child’s name and abductor and other critical data elements have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
How the AMBER Plan Works

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.

  • Law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted, and
  • Law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction to indicate that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death, and
  • There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help.
  • If these criteria are met, alert information is 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 the Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Montgomery, Alabama. DPS sends the information via the EAS system to all television and radio broadcasters throughout the state. The information is immediately broadcast by participating stations.



Now, while people are talking about these tragedies, is the time to educate the public and law enforcement about the Amber Alert plan and therefore, increase its effectiveness.

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