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Author Topic: States disagree greatly on Amber Alert criteria  (Read 1020 times)
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« on: November 21, 2008, 11:15:49 AM »

States disagree greatly on Amber Alert criteria
11/20/2008 8:03 AM
By: Associated Press

UNDATED -- Authorities count hundreds of Amber Alert cases nationwide as success stories. They said that's why the media-friendly and politically popular bulletins are so important.

Yet despite a federal law meant to create a uniform system, an Associated Press review shows wide variations in what triggers an Amber Alert from one state to the next. That can heighten the tensions among authorities when a suspect crosses state lines.

The AP examined Amber Alert records from all 50 states and found that some barely keep track of the alerts they've issued, let alone whether they worked. A few states don't have anyone designated to oversee their programs.

That poor record-keeping makes it difficult to tell whether investigators have ever missed a chance to safely recover an abducted child because of differences in the state laws and their application.

Twelve states refuse to put out an alert when a parent calls police amid a custody fight, while others see that as a legitimate reason to enlist help from the public. Twelve states issue Amber Alerts for adults with mental or physical disabilities, while other states save their bulletins solely for abducted children.

Amber Alerts started in 1996 after the murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. The city developed a system where police work with broadcasters to put out bulletins on abducted children, similar to severe weather warnings.

Soon, states began creating their own Amber Alert systems, and Congress established its own law in 2003.

  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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