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Amber Alert

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Amber Alert

Post  Guest on Wed 8 Sep - 12:28

How successful is Amber Alert?

Source: Wikipedia

False alarms

Advocates for missing children are concerned that the public is becoming desensitized to AMBER Alerts because of a large number of false alarms — where police issue an AMBER Alert without strictly adhering to the U.S. Department of Justice's activation guidelines.

A Scripps Howard study of the 233 AMBER Alerts issued in the United States in 2004 found that most issued alerts did not meet the Department of Justice's criteria. Fully 50% (117 alerts) were categorized by the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children as being "family abductions," very often a parent involved in a custody dispute. There were 48 alerts for children who had not been abducted at all, but were lost, ran away, involved in family misunderstandings (for example, two instances where the child was with grandparents), or as the result of hoaxes. Another 23 alerts were issued in cases where police didn't know the name of the allegedly abducted child, often as the result of misunderstandings by witnesses who reported an abduction.

Only 70 of the 233 AMBER Alerts issued in 2004 (30%) were actually children taken by strangers or who were unlawfully travelling with adults other than their legal guardians

Retrieval rate

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, of the children abducted by strangers and murdered, 75% are killed within the first three hours. Amber Alerts are designed to inform the general public quickly when a child has been kidnapped and is in danger so that "the public [would be] additional eyes and ears of law enforcement." As of August 2002, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children reported that 17 children had been successfully recovered after an Amber alert was issued, including one case in which the abductor released the child after hearing the alert.

By September 2002, Amber alerts were used by all or part of 26 states and had helped to recover 27 children

Controversy about success rate

Some outside scholars examining the system in depth disagree with the "official" results. A team led by University of Nevada criminologist Timothy Griffin looked at hundreds of abduction cases between 2003 and 2006 and found that Amber Alerts actually played little apparent role in the eventual return of abducted children. Furthermore, AMBER Alerts tended to be "successful" in relatively mundane abductions, such as when the child was taken by a noncustodial parent or other family member. There was little evidence that Amber Alerts routinely "saved lives", although a crucial research constraint was the impossibility of knowing with certainty what "would have" happened if no Alert was issued in a particular case.

Griffin and co-author Monica Miller articulated the limits to AMBER Alert in a subsequent research article. They pointed out that AMBER Alerts are inherently constrained, because to be successful in the most menacing cases there needs to be a rapid synchronization of several felicitous events (rapid discovery that the child is missing and subsequent Alert, the fortuitous discovery of the child or abductor by a citizen, and so forth). Furthermore, there is a contradiction between the need for rapid recovery and the prerogative to maintain the strict issuance criteria to reduce the number of frivolous Alerts, creating a dilemma for law enforcement officials and public backlash when Alerts are not issued in cases ending as tragedies. Finally, the implied causal model of AMBER Alert (rapid recovery can save lives) is in a sense the opposite of reality: In the worst abduction scenarios, the intentions of the perpetrator usually guarantees that anything public officials do will be "too slow."

Because the system is publicly praised for saving lives despite these limitations, Griffin and Miller argue that AMBER Alert acts as "crime control theatre" in that it "creates the appearance but not the fact of crime control". AMBER Alert is thus a socially constructed 'solution' to the rare but intractable crime of child-abduction murder. Griffin and Miller have subsequently applied the concept to other emotional but ineffective legislation such as Safe Haven Laws and Polygamy raids, and continue their work in developing the concept of "crime control theatre" and on the AMBER Alert system.


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Re: Amber Alert

Post  Guest on Wed 8 Sep - 12:29

Amber Alert: 10 Years Old, 400 Successful Child Recoveries

An AMBER Alert is a multi-media notification to the general public that the police have confirmed that a child has been abducted.

The AMBER Alert is named for 9-year old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in Arlington, Texas in 1996. To save other children from Amber's tragic death, Donna and Richard, her parents formed P.A.S.O (People Against Sex Offenders) to alert communities when an abduction occurs. The AMBER Alert grew from that effort. Today, all fifty states and Canada have AMBER Alert systems.

It's been 10 years since the first automated implementation of the AMBER Alert was created by the Child Alert Foundation in 1998.

And it's been nearly 10 years - November 1998 - since the first child in the United States was recovered as a result of an AMBER Alert. That child was 8-week old Rae Leigh Bradbury. On April 4, 2007, 9-year old Rae Leigh introduced First Lady Laura Bush at the announcement of the future opening of the Texas Regional Office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The National Center is a nonprofit group that helps the Justice Department train police to use the alert system.

Federal guidelines for AMBER Alerts require that the child be under 18 and believed to be in grave danger and that the abduction has been confirmed by police. The public information in an AMBER Alert usually consists of the child's name, description and a description of the suspected abductor and the abductor's car and license number, if available.

AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial and satellite radio, TV stations and cable TV through the Emergency Alert System, as well as e-mail, electronic traffic condition signs, Wallgreen Drug Stores' electronic readerboard road signs and wireless text messages. Those interested in subscribing to receive AMBER Alerts in their area visit Wireless Amber Alerts.

According to the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children, relatives were involved in 47% of the AMBER Alerts in 2007. Non-family abductions accounted for 41% of the alerts.

It should be noted that over the past few years, the number of AMBER Alerts has declined. Police and researchers cite as reasons for the decline, more restrictive use of the alerts. The alerts must meet the federal criteria. For those cases that do not meet the strict criteria, a less widely distributed secondary alert is issued.

Today, police use the alerts only for children in the most danger. Thus, the number of alerts has fallen from 275 in 2005 to 261 in 2006 and 227 in 2007. During the first six months of 2008, there were 102 alerts issued.

Virginia's AMBER Alert coordinator, State Police Lt. Pete Fagen, states that Virginia wants to restrict AMBER Alerts to the most serious cases in order to get and keep the maximum public attention and the maximum media cooperation.

Bob Hoever, the associate director for training of the National for Missing and Exploited Children said, "We have the eyes and ears of the public assisting us." Indeed, the goal of AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search and safe recovery of the abducted child. AMBER Alerts have led to 400 successful recoveries. There have been 12 successful recoveries in the first six months of 2008.

Many of the tough laws against child sex offenders take their names from children who were brutally abducted, sexually assaulted and killed. Megan's Law, a federal statute and law in 50 states, requires convicted sex offenders to register their current address in a Sex Offender Registry which is open for public inspection. The law takes its name from Megan Kanka, a 7-year old child who, was kidnapped, molested and murdered in 1994 by a neighbor who was a convicted sexual predator. No one knew that the neighbor who lived across the street was a convicted pedophile. Megan's law assures that the community can keep informed of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders in their neighborhoods.

Jessica's law, recently adopted by the Maryland General Assembly, takes its name from Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year old child who was kidnapped, molested and murdered in 2005. The law toughens penalties for child sex offenders. It imposes a mandatory 25-year to life, with no chance of parole, on anyone over 18 years of age convicted of a first or second degree sex offense against anyone younger than 13 years of age.

The names of these tragically murdered young children - Amber Hagerman, Megan Kanka and Jessica Lunsford - live on in laws that impose stronger penalties on child sex offenders and protect children from becoming their victims.

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Re: Amber Alert

Post  Guest on Wed 8 Sep - 12:30

Utah Amber Alert system among most successful
August 26th, 2009 @ 5:15pm
By Alex Cabrero
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's Amber Alert system was tested Wednesday morning to make sure all the technology used in broadcasting the alerts is working.

The system is tested twice a year. Paul Murphy, who is Utah's coordinator for the Amber Alert system, says he'd rather find any bugs in the system now than when it's for real.

"In the past, we've had these tests where we've realized the technology wasn't working in the way it was supposed to be, and so this gives us a chance to stop, pause, reflect and see what we can do better," Murphy said.
Utah has a great track record when it comes to Amber Alert success. Utah's first Amber Alert was for Elizabeth Smart in June of 2002. She was found nine months later with her captures in Sandy.

To date, there have been 28 Amber Alerts for 33 children. Of those 33 children, 26 were returned safely, three died, and four are still unknown.

One successful case happened in December of 2005 when Box Elder County issued an Amber Alert for two missing brothers. They were found the next day in the southern Utah city of Ivins when a person who had heard the Amber Alert noticed the license plate on a car investigators were looking for.

This past January, a trucker in St. George heard an Amber Alert for a 14-year-old Ogden girl on the radio and realized the car detectives were looking for was in front of him on Interstate 15.

"Really, it comes down to one person in the right place to find a child, and we see it happening again and again," Murphy said.

Three of the four children whose whereabouts are still unknown one Amber Alert.

In September of last year, police believe Israel Hernandez took his three children from their West Valley home and went to Mexico. No one has heard from him or 6-year-old Alicia Hernandez, 4-year-old Pablo Hernandez and 3-year-old Xiomara Hernandez since.

Our fear is, those three children are still missing, they're still in Mexico. They're still with a parent that a court has said is not the proper parent for them to be with," Murphy said.

Cases like that one will be addressed when Murphy attends an Amber Alert conference in San Diego next month.

Mexican states have shown an interest in creating an Amber Alert system. Murphy says Baja California is the first to get one going.

"By cooperating and making contacts with Mexican authorities, we hope that when a child goes to Mexico, that's not going to be a safe haven, that the perpetrator will be caught and the child will be returned safely," Murphy said.

Murphy believes it will be a way to make Utah's Amber Alert system even better.

"We want them to know we have the resources to bring that child back," he said.


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Re: Amber Alert

Post  Guest on Wed 8 Sep - 12:30

imo - The Amber Alert system would be more of a success if the criteria where adhered to more strictly.

Summary of Department of Justice Recommended Criteria
taken from: http://www.amberalert.gov/guidelines.htm

-There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
-The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
-There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
-The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
-The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.

and I might add, as mentioned in a previous article...
-The technology works and is tested on a regular basis, to make sure the alert can go out without any technical hitches.

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