Amber Alerts

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America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER)

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What is the AMBER Alert Plan?

The purpose of the Amber Plan is to provide a territory-wide rapid response to the most serious child abduction cases. When an Amber Alert is activated, law enforcement officers immediately gain the assistance of hundreds of broadcast and cable listeners and viewers throughout the area. The plan relies on the community to safely recover the abducted child. It is hoped that this early warning system will not only coerce a kidnapper into releasing the child for fear of being arrested but also deter the person from committing the crime in the first place.

The Amber Alert program is designed to save children by locating abducted children within the first 24 hours, which are the most critical hours in an abduction.

The power of free, over-the-air electronic media is the best way to quickly reach Virgin Islands residents who may have information leading to the return of a missing or abducted child. Through the Amber Alert program, listeners and viewers will become the eyes and ears for police, and hopefully aid in the return of the child.

When is an AMBER Alert Issued?

The following protocol/criteria will be utilized to determine if an Amber Alert should be issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department, the leading local law enforcement agency, confirms a child has been abducted.
  • The child is under the age of 18.
  • Law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction indicate that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death, either at the hands of another or due to a proven mental or physical disability.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect's vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help.
  • The activation must be recommended by the Virgin Islands Police Department.

Why was the AMBER Alert System Created?

The Amber Alert Plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered in Arlington, Texas. Law enforcement says Amber was dragged from her bicycle while riding in a shopping center near her home. Her body was found four days later. The news of Amber's murder outraged the entire community and mobilized residents to take action. Following her murder, concerned individuals contacted local radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested that the station broadcast special "alerts" over the airwaves to help find abducted children. In response to this recommendation and the community's concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies in northern Texas, established the Amber Plan. Initially it was only radio stations that participated. In 1999, area television stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area joined the plan and began sending out these urgent bulletins.

 

This successful police-community initiative resulted with U.S. President George W. Bush on April 30, 2003, signing into law the PROTECT Act of 2003, which in effect creates a nationwide Amber Alert system. The acronym PROTECT stands for: Prosecuting Remedies and Tools Against the Exploitation of Children Today. Also, this Act includes new legislation to thwart child pornography.

A key element of the Amber Plan is commitment from both law enforcement and the media. Once law enforcement has authorized an Amber Alert, it should be broadcasted forthwith by the media.

What Should You Do in Case of an AMBER Alert?

The general public is asked, when an Amber Alert is issued, to be alert to traffic and, if the vehicle, abductor and/or child is seen, to contact the telephone number given in the alert or the Police Department with the sighting information.

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