Save a child with AMBER ALERT
A parent's worst nightmare is a child abduction. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 76 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 help locate abducted children.
The AMBER ALERT Program has helped in successfully recovering over two 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.
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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 Statistics
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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
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 partnering with the National Weather Service (NWS) who sends either 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.
APBnet is a web-based system that captures and immediately distributes color photographs and
images to law enforcement agencies, media outlets, and other organizations. In addition, the system is capable of transmitting information
via facsimile to business, hospitals, schools, media outlets, and agencies. The APBnet system can be used to quickly disseminate
information regarding a child abduction case throughout the state.
CHP Web Site
When the CHP receives word of a confirmed child abduction which meets the AMBER
ALERT criteria, it can post APBnet 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
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. Bulletins are posted on the EDIS Web site
(http://edis.oes.ca.gov) for access by the media, law enforcement agencies and the public.
Wireless Emergency Alerts Program
The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) will allow consumers with
WEA-capable smartphones and feature phones to automatically receive free AMBER ALERT messages, along with Presidential and Imminent
Threat Alerts. When a subscriber with a WEA enabled cellular phone is within range of the activated cell tower they will receive the
AMBER Alerts, even if the wireless customer is not from the area. The program is an "opt out" program, meaning subscribers do not have
to enroll in the program to receive alerts. The WEA AMBER Alert notiification is automatically sent from National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at the time of the AMBER Alert activation. The message includes an audible tone followed by a text-like
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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
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.
For more information on child safety and prevention:
California Highway Patrol
California Department of Justice
Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit
Missing Children Hotline
Office of Victim Services
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
CHP 961 (OPI 028 - 3/2013)