(WAFB) - Across the United States, every January 13 is set aside to commemorate and bring awareness to child abduction.
January 13 marks National AMBER Alert Awareness Day, honoring the memory of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, TX on January 13, 1996. Since the origination of America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) program, nearly 900 children have been successfully recovered as a direct result of the program.
Today, the AMBER Alert system is being used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 22 other countries.
Statewide AMBER Alert plans are coordinated and administered by state police. It is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases focused on safely locating an abducted child within the critical 2-3 hours time period following the abduction.
According to AMBER Alert criteria that state police adheres to before activating an alert is:
- The abducted child must be 17-years-old or younger
- The child must be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
- there must be enough descriptive information about the abducted child, suspect, and vehicle
These criteria are recommended by the United States Department of Justice.
The AMBER Alert plan is not intended for runways or for the majority of parental abductions, except in rare circumstances, Louisiana State Police says.
In addition to AMBER Alerts, Level II media advisories are intended to broadcast information about endangered missing children whose cases do not rise to the level of an AMBER Alert but do require additional attention.
You can sign up for AMBER Alerts on with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, here. WAFB frequently posts AMBER Alerts that are relative to the WAFB viewing area and beyond. Download the 9News app, here for the latest AMBER alerts as well as alerts related to missing people in the area.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) encourages people to be alert and report situations regarding children who appear to be lost.
If you think you see an abducted child or possible suspect:
- Immediately contact the police
- Try to get as much descriptive information (e.g. vehicle license plate number, description of child, description of suspect, description of location, direction in which they were heading, etc.) and pass this information along to the police
- Do not intervene
If you see or hear an AMBER Alert, pay close attention to the details in the alert, and keep an eye out for the abducted child, the suspect or the suspect's vehicle described in the AMBER Alert. If you see or hear something with regard to a child abduction mentioned in the media, call 911 immediately.