Wireless AMBER Alert

Wireless Emergency Alert Program

The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) Program is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A WEA allows members of the public with WEA-compatible mobile devices to receive free geographically-targeted wireless alert messages, Presidential, and other Imminent Threat Alerts. These digital notifications are activated proximate to where a child abduction, threat, or other imminent threat has occurred or may occur.

How Successful are WEAs?

In short yes, extremely successful. Since the application of the embedded hyperlink in October 2018, WEAs have accounted for the majority of recoveries of AMBER Alert victims. It has empowered community members to take an active part in safely locating missing endangered persons. Previously, the only information available to the public had to be contained to 90 characters of text with no pictures. Now there is no limit to the amount of text, pictures, and flyers. In the last year, the duration of AMBER Alert activations has decreased by almost 50%. When you break that down into the amount of time you are separated from your child, whose life is in danger, every second counts.
The CHP has many stories of this program working. These are not statistics, but actual children and other at-risk adults. The heroes of these stories aren’t restricted to a CHP uniform. They range from children on bicycles, to youth sitting in a parking lot, to a group of people at a gas station, to a couple walking down the street, and many, many more. We at the CHP are proud of their service to their community and heroic actions.

​Are they being sent to everyone all the time?

No. Oversaturation of alerts is always a concern and is an element discussed prior to each activation. Unlike the majority of other States who send each alert statewide no matter the location or time of day, the CHP, as the statewide coordinator has put in place safeguards to help navigate the location and duration of each alert. The CHP has the ability to adjust an alert’s activation zone as needed by the situation. Alert activation zones can range from a half mile radius to the incident and increase in size to incorporate communities, cities, counties, regions, and if needed, statewide.

At any given time, there can multiple active alerts throughout California, but community members would only be notified about the alerts that impact them. Success of the system depends on its judicious use and the participation of the public to alert law enforcement when they sight subjects matching the descriptions in the alerts. As of 2018, the CHP was the first law enforcement agency in the nation to successfully incorporate the use of an embedded hyperlink to provide a flyer, relevant detail and associated pictures. The CHP Twitter page @CHPAlerts maintains an updated list of all alerts in California and can be found at https://chp.click/alert.

We acknowledge there may be a level of inconvenience, surprise, and frustration felt by members of our communities when an alert is issued due to the alert notification. Our hope is that those in the communities where an alert is issued understand these alerts could directly affect them and this information is for their safety or the safety of others.

​Why do I receive duplicate alerts on the same device?

When the CHP activates the WEA, your device should only receive one alert. Individual wireless providers are the ones responsible for the notification to the devices on their respective networks. The ability to send these types of alerts is still relatively new and is a high-risk low frequency event. Your wireless providers have had to adjust to the government mandates to provide this service and will continue to fine-tune their systems to prevent duplicate activations and activations outside the designated area. If you have questions about receiving multiple alerts or alerts after an event has been deactivated, please contact your wireless provider directly.

​Wireless Emergency Alerts General Information

For general questions regarding the WEA, the FCC’s information page contains FAQs about the WEA. https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/wireless-emergency-alerts-wea


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