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What Is the AMBER Alert System and How Does It Work?

AMBER Alert
Mike Simons/Getty Images

The AMBER Alert website was taken off line from Friday, October 4 until 10 a.m. Monday due to the Government Shutdown.

According to New York Daily News, the Justice Department put the site back online because of complaints suggesting that the shutdown had forced closure of notification system.

While the site was offline visitors to the site saw the following message:
“Due to the lapse in federal funding, this Office of Justice Programs (OJP) website is unavailable.”

AMBER Alert
AmberAlert.gov

Officials at the Justice Department said that even though the website which provides information about the program was not online the Amber Alert program continued operating.

The Blaze noted that First Lady Michelle Obama’s website for her “Let’s Move” campaign remained up and running and was fully functional while the AMBER Alert website was not.

When and Where Did AMBER Alert First Begin?

AMBER ALERT
Alex Wong/Getty

In 1996 broadcasters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area teamed up with the local police and developed an early warning system to help make finding abducted children easier and faster.

From 1996 until 2001 implementing the AMBER Alert System throughout the United States wasn’t very significant, only four states had statewied AMBER plans at the end of 2001.

Then in 2002 AMBER Alert became nationally focused after a White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children. AMBER Alert became nationally focused.

President George W. Bush requested that the U.S. Attorney General appoint a National AMBER Alert Coordinator, Deborah J. Daniels. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the PROTECT Act into law, strengthening the ability of law enforcement to investigate, prevent, prosecute, and punish violent crimes committed against children.

Guidance was provided to law enforcement, broadcasters, transportation officials, and the public in 2004 on AMBER Alert activation criteria. The guidance is designed to create a uniform network of plans that are used across the the United States that minimizes potentially deadly delays because of confusion that could exist among many jurisdictions.

It must first be confirmed by Law enforcement that an abduction has taken place

As of 2009, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have AMBER Alert plans. The AMBER Alert system has also been adopted in the Canadian provinces and continues to expand into the Mexican border states.


How the AMBER Alert System Works

AMBER Alert
Erik S. Lesser/Getty

First law enforcement must confirm that a child has been abducted and the abduction meets the AMBER Alert criteria, then they notify broadcasters and state transportation officials with the information. Regular programming is interupted on radio, television and highway signs. It is also possible to issue AMBER Alerts on mobile phones, the Internet and on lottery tickets.


What Does AMBER Mean?

Alex Wong/Getty

AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. It was created as a legacy to a 9-year-old girl named Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and murdered.


Is AMBER Alert Effective?

AMBER ALERT
David McNew/Getty

It has been very effective and has helped save the lives of 495 children nationwide to date. More than 90 percent of children recovered have occurred since 2002, after a National AMBER Alert Coordinator was appointed as a result of the first-ever White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children.

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