What is the AMBER Alert Plan?
The AMBER Alert Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases.
Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS), formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System, to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor.
This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies. The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.
Why Was the AMBER Plan Created?
The AMBER Alert Plan was created in 1997 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas.
The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special "alerts" over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the future.
In response to the community's concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that time is the enemy in child abductions.
How Does the AMBER Alert Plan Work?
Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets the AMBER Alert Plan's criteria for triggering an alert.
Maryland AMBER Plan Criteria
The following criteria are utilized to determine if an Amber Alert should be issued for the State of Maryland:
1. Law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted.
2. The child is under the age of 18.
3. Law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction indicate that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
4. There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect's vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help.
5. The child is believed to still be in the broadcast area.
6. The child's name and other critical elements have been entered into NCIC by police.
ONLY A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY CAN REQUEST AN ACTIVATION OF THE AMBER ALERT SYSTEM THROUGH THE MARYLAND STATE POLICE.
How the Amber Plan Works
The local law enforcement agency verifies that a child has been abducted and is in danger of serious bodily harm.
The reporting law enforcement agency contacts the Maryland State Police Headquarters Duty Officer (410) 486-3101 and requests an AMBER Alert Activation.
A Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit calls the requesting agency and obtains the necessary information.
The AMBER Alert information is sent via the Emergency Alert System to broadcasters, the State Highway Administration and Maryland Law Enforcement Agencies.
The broadcasters, the State Highway Administration and various other private and public entities broadcast the information to the general public. The State Highway Administration will immediately post AMBER Alerts utilizing variable message signs. The signs typically used to disseminate traffic information to drivers, now alert the public of abducted children, displaying pertinent information about the child, abductor or suspected vehicle that drivers might look for on highways.
When an AMBER Alert is issued the general public is asked to check their surroundings and if the vehicle, abductor and/or child is seen, to contact the telephone number given in the alert or your local law enforcement agency with the sighting information.
This would be an appropriate time to use the 911 emergency number.
IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR CHILD IS MISSING:
- Act immediately
- If your child is missing from home - thoroughly search the house.
- If you cannot find the child - immediately call 911. Provide the operator with your child's name, date of birth, height, weight, and any other unique identifiers.
- If your child disappears in a store - notify the store manager or security office then immediately call 911.
- Request that your child's name and identifying information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.
- After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the Maryland Center for Missing Children (MCMC) 800-MDS-KIDS for assistance.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE
Teach your child to be aware and informed:
- Children should know their full name, address, and phone number.
- Teach your child to call for help, dial 911, and make long distance calls.
- Always know where your child is and the routes your child takes to and from school.
- As a parent you should know your child's friends, their addresses and phone numbers.