What is an Amber Alert? How legacy of Texas girl Amber Hagerman, 9, who was kidnapped and killed in 1996 lives on
Amber Hagerman's mutilated body was discovered in a creek 4 days after she was kidnapped
In recent years, we all have come across a children-specific public announcement or warning about disappeared/abducted children. This alert is called AMBER Alert. Law enforcement officials issue AMBER Alerts with pictures and information about missing children and possible abductors, along with contact numbers to report sightings or provide information. These alerts are sent to radio and television stations and cable TV outlets, which may use the Emergency Alert System to relay the information to local communities throughout the United States and its territories.
The AMBER Alert system, or 'America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response' Alert, comes from the name of Amber Hagerman, who got abducted in 1996.
Who was Amber Hagerman?
On the night of January 13, 1996, Amber Hagerman and her brother were riding their bicycles in a parking lot in downtown Arlington, Texas. After being gone for only 8 minutes, Amber was kidnapped by an unknown individual. Despite a well-deployed emergency management program and widespread coverage in the local media, her mutilated body was discovered in a creek 4 days later only a few miles from her home.
Till date, the crime remains unsolved. Since then, the AMBER Alert grew organically. After the incident, authorities thought just like weather updates for a city, and other similar urgent updates, why not do the same when a child is kidnapped? After this, broadcasters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area started partnering with local law enforcement to develop an early warning for abducted children.
What is an AMBER Alert?
AMBER alerts are used by law enforcement to notify the public about missing children thought to have been kidnapped. AMBER Alerts are only used for the most serious child-abduction cases when authorities believe a child is in danger of serious bodily injury or death. The goal of AMBER Alerts is to add millions of extra eyes and ears to watch, listen and help in the safe return of the child and apprehension of the abductor.
By the end of 2001, only four states had statewide AMBER Alert emergency preparedness plans. In 2002, the White House convened a conference on missing, exploited, and runaway children. It was at this point the AMBER Alert emergency management program came into national focus. On April 30, 2003, then-President George W Bush signed the PROTECT Act into law, which provided the emergency preparedness and response tools necessary to create a national AMBER Alert program. With this support, Hawaii became the 50th state to complete its statewide AMBER Alert emergency preparedness plan in February 2005. The AMBER Alert system is specifically responsible for the rescue of over 900 children.
If you see a child, adult or vehicle fitting an AMBER Alert description, immediately call the telephone number given in the AMBER Alert and provide authorities with as much information as possible. If you believe a child is missing, you should contact local law enforcement immediately, then call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). More information about available resources can be found at missingkids.org/MissingChild.