Nationwide, Jan. 13, 2011 has been designated as Amber Alert Awareness Day, and law enforcement agencies in Monett, as well as others across the United States, will recognize the impact that the service has had on assisting investigators in recovering abducted children.
Amber stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created in Texas when broadcasters from Dallas and Fort Worth partnered with local law enforcement agencies to develop an early warning system.
"It's a system that affects all of us in getting the information out there," said Lt. Greg Brandsma with the Monett Police Department. "We have seen the system work in getting vital information out to local law enforcement agencies, as well as those in other states."
The program significantly cuts down on the time officers spend searching for and locating missing children.
"We have used the system successfully in Monett," Brandsma continued, "and fortunately, we have never been in a situation where there has been a tragic consequence."
The Amber Alert program was initiated in 1996 following the abduction and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Arlington, Texas, Amber Rene Hagerman. Her killer was never found.
The Amber Alert system activates an urgent bulletin for serious child abduction cases. Using information that is broadcast through the bulletin, law enforcement officials, community members and volunteers can assist in locating and recovering missing children.
Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, satellite radio, television stations and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio, where they are termed "Child Abduction Emergencies." The alerts are also issued via e-mail and electronic LED billboards. Those with wireless devices can also receive alerts through text messages and e-mail accounts via their wireless cell phone provider.
"We are also seeing much more collaboration between law enforcement agencies," Brandsma said. "They are moving toward communicating information with other agencies much better."
Anyone having information on the abducted child or suspect vehicle can call the posted law enforcement agency number on the bulletin in order to provide officials with as much information about the sighting or location of the victim as possible.
Although named after Amber Hagerman, the national program is now nationwide and is dedicated to all children who have been abducted.
Since its inception, a total of 523 children have been safely recovered through the Amber Alert program.
More information may be found at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on the Internet at www.missingkids.com.