The AMBER Plan is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies and the Montana Broadcasters Association and its members to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases.
Broadcasters are notified by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Department of Justice and then air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor.
The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.
System upgrades are currently in development that will allow automatic activation of the system as well as geographic tracking via satellite that will reset the alert any time that a sighting is made.
Why Was the AMBER Plan Created?
The AMBER Plan was created in 1997 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas.
The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special “alerts” over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the future.
In response to the community’s concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law-enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that, when abducted, a child’s greatest enemy is time.
How Does the AMBER Plan Work?
Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets the AMBER Plan’s criteria for triggering an
Four criteria must be met in order to activate an Amber Alert in Montana:
Amber Alerts are only activated for abducted children 17 years of age or younger
law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted
law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction indicate that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death
there is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help
If these criteria are met, alert information must be put together for public distribution. This information can include descriptions and pictures of the missing child, the suspected abductor, a suspected vehicle, and any other information available and valuable to identifying the child and suspect.
The information is then faxed and e-mailed to all Montana broadcast stations and a call is made to the stations by the DOJ to confirm receipt of the information.
Radio stations interrupt programming to announce the Alert, and television stations run a “crawl” on the screen along with a picture of the child when available. The information is also placed on the Montana Amber Alert web page http://www.doj.state.mt.us/enforcement/missingpersonclearinghouse.asp .
Members of the public may now sign up to receive Amber Alerts via email, cell phone, pagers, or fax by visiting http://www.montanaamberalert.com.