Florida Updates AMBER Alert Criteria to Include All Children in Imminent Danger
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has updated the criteria for an AMBER Alert following the state AMBER Alert Review Committee’s adoption of an Enhanced Missing Child Alert in late 2019. “This means that AMBER Alerts may now be issued if authorities believe a child is facing imminent danger, regardless of whether he or she was abducted,” said FDLE Communications Director Gretl Plessinger.
Missouri AMBER Alert Program Upgraded for Quicker Notifications
The Missouri Highway Patrol streamlined its process to issue AMBER Alerts for faster public notification. Authorities upgraded the system to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to deliver alerts directly to cellular carriers. Previously, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children distributed the messages to cellphones. Other features include: reducing the possibility of outdated information to continually be shared on social media, automatically updating Facebook and Twitter accounts, and the option to subscribe to alerts on its website at www.mo.gov/alerts/.
Kansas Unveils New Missing Persons Website
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) launched a new website in October 2019, www.kbi.ks.gov/MissingPersons, to spread information about missing person cases originating in the state. Users can search by name, county, gender, age, or by the date the missing person was last seen; and can submit tips or information to the KBI directly through the website. The site also includes links to AMBER and Silver Alert program information.
Virginia Police Department Buys Drones to Help in AMBER Alerts
The Richmond, Virginia, Police Department purchased a fleet of drones to help in investigations, including cases involving AMBER Alerts. Twenty officers have been trained to fly the department’s four drones. The Federal Aviation Administration governs drones and state code requires a search warrant unless there is an immediate danger, such as in the case of an AMBER Alert. “They’re small. They’re portable. They’re easily deployed, and they are relatively inexpensive,” said Richmond Police Captain Michael Snawder. “This is a game changer for us.”
Family of Missing Child Pushes for a Serenity Alert
A South Dakota family is promoting a Serenity Alert for missing and endangered children whose cases do not meet AMBER Alert criteria. The alert would be named for Serenity Dennard, who at the time of this writing, remains missing after running away in February 2019 from a children’s home in Rockerville, South Dakota. The family wants the legislature to create a system so the public would receive a text message about a missing child.
Montana Offers Training on Finding Missing Persons
The Montana Attorney General’s Office and the state’s U.S. Attorney offered a second round of training in October 2019 to help resolve missing person cases. The training in Billings, Montana, had separate tracks for the public and law enforcement. Experts discussed the AMBER Alert program and the nexus between missing persons and human trafficking.
Oklahoma Honors Deputies for Locating Abducted Infant
Three Carter County Sheriff’s Office deputies were presented a commendation award at the August 2019 Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association Midwest Conference. The deputies located and safely recovered an abducted 4-month-old infant taken by a man who threatened to run the child’s mother over with his vehicle. Deputies Joel Ramirez, Jared Trotts and David Duggan were honored for recovering the victim 27 hours after he was taken June 12, 2019.
Texas AMBER Alert Program Starts New Committee to Address Missing Children
The Brazos Valley AMBER Alert Network in College Station, Texas, formed a new committee to identify resources needed for missing children in the community. An average of 330 children in the Brazos Valley are reported missing each year. “The numbers are telling us we have a problem,” said College Station Police Assistant Chief Chuck Fleeger. “Now is the time to address it.”