Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
January 13 Marks AMBER Alert Beginnings
Date of Release: 01/10/05
FRANKFORT, KY (Jan. 10, 2005) - The Kentucky State Police (KSP) joins law enforcement agencies nationwide in recognizing Jan. 13 as the date that initiated the AMBER Alert system and to remind citizens of the integral part they can play in the program.
On Jan. 13, 1996, the abduction of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman from the Dallas-Fort Worth area spurred local broadcasters and police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, known commonly as the AMBER Alert, evolved from that abduction and was adopted by law enforcement agencies across the country.
AMBER Alerts are issued when law enforcement officials determine that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The Kentucky State Police (KSP) has statewide responsibility for activating an AMBER Alert and has issued nine alerts since the system was activated in 2003. All nine children were recovered unharmed.
KSP Commissioner Mark L. Miller said citizens have helped lead law enforcement officials to some of these abducted children. He added that continued citizen involvement is vital. "AMBER Alerts are successful through the cooperation and coordination among not only law enforcement agencies, broadcasters and emergency management officials, but a vigilant public, as well," said Miller. "Descriptions of alleged abductors, their vehicles and license plate numbers, and descriptions of the abducted children are information issued during an alert. Citizen watchfulness to such details has led to rescues of unharmed children in Kentucky and nationwide."
One example of a citizen report to a Kentucky AMBER Alert was in March 2004. A seven-year-old Madison County boy was abducted by his mother, who did not have custody of the child. The mother took the child to an area motel, where a motel employee recognized both individuals from Amber Alert broadcasts and then notified the Richmond Police Department.
Miller added that while citizens are encouraged to report sightings of abducted children to law enforcement officials, they should let officers handle the rescue. "No citizen should put himself in harm's way by trying to rescue a child or confronting an alleged abductor," said Miller. "Reporting a sighting is very important, but only trained officers should make contact with the abductor or the child."
The Kentucky State Police, local law enforcement agencies, the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency and the Kentucky Broadcasters Association partner in the AMBER Alert system.
More information on the AMBER Alert system and what to do if a child is missing can be found on the Internet at http://www.amberalert.gov. Safety tips to parents on how to help prevent children from being abducted or becoming lost can be found at http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org/missing.htm.