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AMBER Alert Awareness

Program is credited with recovering 495 children

The Department of Justice and other agencies noted Jan. 13, anniversary of the kidnapping of Amber Hagerman, to remind the nation of the AMBER Alert program.

AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.” It is initiated if a child is thought to be missing or have been kidnapped. Broadcasters distribute immediate information and public requests for information concerning the child and/or abductor.

The roots of the program were planted in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in 1996, a few months after Hagerman was taken in January of that year.

Since then a national, federally-coordinated program has developed covering the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Canada cooperates with the program.

A supplemental network of Internet, outdoor digital signage, coordinated highway networks and public and private employers has developed as well.

To date, the program has been credited with saving 495 children, according to a DOJ press release; most of those recoveries have come in the seven years since the program went national.

Further, the Justice Department stated, “Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that perpetrators are well aware of the power of AMBER Alert, and in many cases have released an abducted child upon hearing the alert.”