Kansas City Scout


Friday, October 12, 2012

AMBER Alert Marks 10 Year Milestone

Posted by Nancy Powell
KC Scout TMC Supervisor

But sadly, not all AMBER Alerts have happy endings
Earlier this evening before posting this blog, Colorado authorities positively identified the dismembered body of missing 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway, who disappeared on her way to school in Westminster, CO last Wednesday, October 5th.  An AMBER Alert was issued that same day, but there was very little information available at that time.  Jessica's father and his family reside in Independence, MO and we extend our sincere sympathies on their tragic loss. 
This month marks the 10th Anniversary of the DOJ mandate that all 50 states adopt the AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert system, which unofficially began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. That impromptu plan was created as a legacy to nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnaped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, and then brutally murdered. Other states and communities soon set up their own AMBER plans as the idea was adopted across the nation. 
In October 2002, then President George W. Bush, directed Attorney General (and Missouri native) John Ashcroft to appoint an AMBER Alert Coordinator at the first-ever White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children.  Subsequently, the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act, was signed on April 30, 2003, which strengthened law enforcement’s ability to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish violent crimes committed against children. The PROTECT Act codified the previously-established National AMBER Alert Coordinator role in the Department of Justice. 
According to the AMBER Alert website, 591 abducted children have been safely recovered since 1996.  Today all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have AMBER Alert plans. 
The US Department of Transportation was an early supporter of the use of electronic roadway message devices for AMBER Alert notifications to the motoring public.  In August of 2002, the FHWA Office of Operations issued a Policy Memorandum to state DOTs detailing consistent criteria for using CMS/DMS (Changeable Message Signs/Dynamic Message Signs) to help recover abducted children that has proven successful across the country, both as a means of locating an abducted child and serving as a deterrent to those who may be considering such an act.  Furthermore, federal funding was made available to implement such programs at the state DOT level as early as February 2003.
KC Scout actively participates in the issuance of AMBER Alerts when the issuing agency is one of three distinct sources; The Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas City Metro Squad or the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.  Local law enforcement agencies must coordinate with one of these three agencies in order for an AMBER Alert to be posted on Missouri and Kansas KC Scout message boards.  The intent of this policy is to assure that the information is vetted fully to avoid false or hoax notifications from persons engaged in custody battles or with an intent to distribute misinformation.
For more information, visit the AMBER Alert website at: (http://www.amberalert.gov/site_index.htm)

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