Sweeny Police | Amber Alert

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Amber Alert

Who Was Amber?

In 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman disappeared from her Arlington neighborhood while riding her bicycle. A neighbor was able to give some details of the car involved, but no system was in place to get that information to local residents quickly. Amberís body was found four days later.

Hoping to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, residents contacted area radio stations and suggested that special alerts be broadcast in abduction cases in the future. The Association of Radio Managers (ARM) in the Dallas/Fort Worth area worked with local law enforcement to develop a plan using emergency system broadcasts across numerous media outlets. Thus, the Amber Alert system was born.

Amber Hagerman

Introduction

On August 12, 2002, Governor Rick Perry issued Executive Order Number RP16 implementing a statewide Amber Alert System. The Amber Alert is a missing child response program that utilizes the resources of law enforcement and the media to immediately notify the public when children are abducted by predators. This alert enlists the support of all citizens within a 200-mile radius of the kidnapping and greatly increases the potential for rescuing the child. The KlaasKids Foundation, established by Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas who was kidnapped and murdered, reports that kidnappers can travel a mile a minute from the scene of the abduction.

Amber Alert Icon

President George Bush directed the formation of a national AMBER Alert network at the first White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children in October of 2002.

Today, plans are in effect in all 50 states, along with a number of interstate collaborations.  Thanks to cooperation among broadcasters; local, state, and federal officials; and citizens in communities across the country, AMBER Alert has become a powerful force in fighting crime.

The Texas Amber Alert Network

The Texas Amber Alert Network provides the stateís law enforcement officers with a mechanism to provide rapid notification of abducted child cases to the media and the public. These alerts encourage the public to report any information about the missing child or the suspect.

The network can by activated only by local law enforcement officers. One call to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will result in a notice being issued over the Texas Association of Broadcastersí Emergency Alert System to television and radio stations within a 200-mile radius of the abduction. DPS will also notify the Texas Department of Transportation to flash messages on state highway signs in the appropriate area warning motorists to watch for the suspectís vehicle. An alert also will be sent to local law enforcement agencies across the state and the appropriate federal agencies.

Local law enforcement agencies also will have a direct connection to a national alert system which will send additional information and a photo to media outlets and major businesses in the search radius.

The Criteria to Issue an AMBER Alert:

  1. The victim of the abduction is a child age 17 years or younger.

  2. Law enforcement officials have a reasonable belief that the child has been taken without the permission of the childís parent or guardian.

  3. Law enforcement officials believe the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.

  4. There is enough descriptive information about the victim, abductor, or the suspectís vehicle to make a broadcast alert to the public helpful.

  5. The victim's name and other critical data have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.

If your Child is Missing...

Immediately call your local law enforcement agency and file a missing person report. The first few hours are critical, and there is no 24-hour waiting period to report a missing child in Texas.

Be prepared to provide law enforcement with the most recent photo of the child and a detailed description of what the child was wearing. Include any other identifying information you might have, such as the childís fingerprints or hair sample, and any information about an abductor or suspicious vehicles in the area.

Protecting Children

To help protect your child from stranger abductions:

  • Know your neighbors and your childís friends, including their names, addresses, and phone numbers.

  • Know the routes your child takes to and from school, friendsí homes, and other activities.

  • Check the references and qualifications of day-care centers and baby-sitters. Ask day-care centers if criminal background checks are conducted on staff members.

  • Teach your child what to do if approached by a strange. Common ruses are offering a ride, gifts, or candy, asking the child to help look for a lost pet, or claiming that the childís parent has asked them to bring the child home because of an emergency.

  • Listen to your child; donít disregard their fears. Instead, let them know that you take their fears and concerns seriously.

Internet Resources

The Texas Amber Alert Network Internet site explains how the Texas system works and offers tips for protecting children.

www.governor.state.tx.us

 

The U.S. Department of Justice Web site provides information about the national AMBER alert program.

www.amberalert.gov

 

To report information about child pornography, child molestation, child prostitution, and the online enticement of children, visit the CyberTipline.

www.cybertipline.com

 

The Texas Missing Persons Clearinghouse maintains a repository of information on missing and unidentified people and operates a 24-hour toll-free help line, (800) 346-3243. The clearinghouse is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

www.txdps.state.tx.us/mpch

 

Beyond Missing is a secure, Internet-based tool designed to give law enforcement the ability to instantaneously create and distribute photo flyers of missing children.

www.beyondmissing.com

 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) provides assistance to parents, children, law enforcement, schools, and the community in recovering missing children and raising public awareness about ways to help prevent child abduction, molestation, and sexual exploitation. The center also publishes "Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents" in English and Spanish.

www.missingkids.com

 

The Polly Klaas Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public on the prevention of child abduction and aiding in the search of missing children.

www.pollyklaas.org

 


This information was developed and provided by:

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Office of the Governor of the State of Texas, August, 2002.

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U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, April, 2005.

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More Information
For more information and tips, download the guide:

"Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for parents" publication from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at www.missingkids.com or the Polly Klaas Foundation Child Safety Kit at this Web site: www.pollyklaas.org.