Save a child with AMBER ALERT
A parent's worst nightmare is a child abduction. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 74 percent of children who were abducted and later found murdered were killed within three hours of being taken. Quick response is vital.
What is AMBER ALERT?
AMBER ALERT empowers law enforcement, the media and the public to combat abduction by sending out immediate, up-to-date information that aids in the child's safe recovery. Using radio, television, the internet, highway information signs, and even cell phone networks, AMBER ALERT gives the public the information needed to locate abducted children.
The AMBER ALERT Program has helped in successfully recovering over one hundred children since it was established statewide in California on July 31, 2002.
AMBER ALERT Guidelines
- AMBER ALERT may be activated only by law enforcement agencies.
- AMBER ALERT is intended only for the most serious, time-critical child abduction cases.
- AMBER ALERT is not intended for cases involving runaways or parental abduction, except in life-threatening situations.
Criteria for activating an AMBER ALERT
Law enforcement agencies ensure these conditions are met before activating an AMBER ALERT:
- The investigating law enforcement agency confirms an abduction has occurred.
- The victim is 17 years of age or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
- The victim is in imminent danger of serious injury or death.
- There is information available that, if provided to the public, could assist in the child's safe recovery.
Back to Top of Page
History of AMBER ALERT
The AMBER ALERT Program originated in Texas in 1996 after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. Texas organized a system that encouraged law enforcement agencies to alert the media following a confirmed child abduction.
California introduced the AMBER ALERT concept in 1999 as a regional program. In 2002 it was adopted statewide after legislation established procedures to assist law enforcement.
Amber Alert Summaries
The California Highway Patrol has experienced overwhelming success in recovering abducted children through the Amber Alert process. The following information provides summaries of each amber alert, broken down by year.
California Highway Patrol's Role in AMBER ALERT
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is responsible for statewide coordination of AMBER ALERT and the other emergency response activities associated with a child abduction.
The CHP is ready to assist in the recovery of an abducted child with statewide notifications of child abduction information.
In this role, the CHP provides law enforcement agencies with assistance in the following areas:
Emergency Alert System
Legislation defines a true AMBER ALERT as the activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS message pre-empts radio and television broadcasts and provides information to the public immediately. To attract attention, the messages are preceded and concluded with alert tones.
The CHP provides service to local law enforcement agencies by staffing and equipping each CHP communication center to initiate a multi-regional or statewide EAS broadcast. The EAS can only be activated for an incident which meets the AMBER ALERT criteria.
Changeable Message Signs
Activation of electronic changeable message signs operated by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) give real-time information to motorists. As part of the AMBER ALERT system, these signs can transmit information about a confirmed child abduction case. The signs will only be activated for an incident which meets the AMBER ALERT criteria. When local law enforcement agencies want message sign activation, the CHP will be the point of contact.
Technology to Recover Abducted Kids (TRAK)
This is an image-based system linking state, county and local law enforcement. TRAK can capture and immediately distribute color photographs and images to law enforcement agencies, the media and other organizations. The system can also forward information via fax to businesses, hospitals, schools, the media and agencies without a TRAK system.
All CHP area offices and communication centers have installed TRAK terminals.
CHP Web Site
When the CHP receives word of a confirmed child abduction which meets the AMBER ALERT criteria, it can post TRAK flyers, photographs and other pertinent information on the department's Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)/media Web site (cad.chp.ca.gov) and public Web site (www.chp.ca.gov).
Emergency Digital Information Service (EDIS)
EDIS delivers official information about emergencies and disasters to law enforcement, news media and the public in California. Electronic emergency bulletins posted to EDIS are available by e-mail and pager from various providers, who voluntarily provide this service. In addition, text messages and color images and graphics can be posted on the EDIS Web site (www.edis.ca.gov) for access by the media, law enforcement agencies and the public.
Back to Top of Page
What can the public do to help?
- If you witness a child abduction, contact your local law enforcement agency or call 911 immediately! Provide information on the location of the abduction and a description of the victim, the suspect and/or any vehicle involved.
- If you hear an AMBER ALERT, watch for the child, suspect and vehicle described in the alert. Immediately report any sightings by calling 911 or the telephone number included with the alert. (Do not call 911 to request information about the abduction.)
What parents can do
Teach your child these safety tips:
- Never get into anyone's car without your parents' permission.
- Move away from a car that pulls up beside you if you don't know the driver.
- Say, "No, thank you," if a stranger or someone else offers you candy or gifts.
- Never answer the door if you are home alone.
- Don't play in deserted buildings.
Mobile Phone and Hand Held Amber Alerts
Amber Alerts are now available to cell phone users via the wirelessamberalerts.org website. Sign up for the service to receive Amber Alert notifications on your handheld devices. You just might save a child's life.
For more information
California Highway Patrol
California Department of Justice
Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit
Missing Children Hotline
Office of Victim Services
Crime and Violence Prevention Center
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
CHP 961 (OPI 013 - 1/2003)