AMBER Alert Briefs – Issue 2 2021

Short News Clips on AMBER Alert & Child Protection Issues

Colorado adds link to provide more information for AMBER Alerts

Colorado is the latest state to add a URL link to offer more details for AMBER and Blue Alerts. The links on the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) go to a Twitter site with additional details beyond the 360-character limits on wireless messages. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation tested the system before using the links in actual alerts.

Tennessee passes several laws involving missing persons

Tennessee will require parents to report missing children after two days, or face increased penalties. “Evelyn’s Law” goes into effect on July 1, 2021, and also requires parents to notify law enforcement within 24 hours if a missing child is 12-years-old or younger. The law was passed after the mother of 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell did not notify law enforcement that their daughter was missing until months later. The mother was charged after the child was found two and a half weeks later.

Tennessee’s Holly Bobo Act is now in effect which raises the age limit for missing person alerts. The law increases the age limit from 18 to 21 to notify the public for an endangered missing person.

State legislators are also considering a Silver Alert to notify the public for missing and vulnerable adults. Alzheimer’s Tennessee is lobbying legislators for issuance of an alert for missing adults with dementia, disabilities, or impairments.

Washington hopes new website will help find girl missing for nearly two decades

The Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit is hoping a new website will help locate a girl who was four years old when she went missing 18 years ago. The newest Homeward Bound Trucks message features Sofia Juarez who went missing from her Kennewick home shortly before her fifth birthday.

Minnesota mother charged for false AMBER Alert

A St. Paul, Minnesota, woman has been charged after police issued an AMBER Alert when she allegedly told police her daughter had been taken in her stolen car. On February 28, the woman called 911 to report her car had been stolen with her two-year-old daughter inside. Authorities found the child safe and say the woman admitted to lying to try to get her ex-boyfriend out of her life.

Texas legislators consider alert for mass shootings

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill to create a state active shooter alert. The law would allow law enforcement to issue an alert to notify the public of an active shooter in their area. The law was prompted by a shooting on August 31, 2019, when a man killed eight people, including himself, and wounded 25 others.

Wisconsin and Florida lawmakers promote Purple Alert—but each state’s alert is different

The Wisconsin legislature is considering creating a Purple Alert to help find missing and endangered domestic violence survivors. The law would eliminate any waiting period before law enforcement can issue a statewide notification with the missing person’s picture and information.

Florida lawmakers are considering a Purple Alert also; however, it would be used by law enforcement for a missing adult with a developmental disability. State Senator Lori Berman says she wants the alert in place after a man died while wandering away from a care center.

New Kentucky law requires quick notifications for missing persons

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed a bill in March 2021 requiring law enforcement to alert the public within four hours after law enforcement is notified about a lost or missing person. The law requires using existing resources like the AMBER Alert and similar notification systems.

Minnesota family proposes “Aqua Alert” for water emergencies

A Minnesota family wants to create an “Aqua Alert” to notify the public for water emergencies as well as other water safety initiatives. Judy Schink is raising money for the proposed initiatives after her husband presumably died while kayaking in Florida. She would also like to add more beachfront surveillance cameras and signs.

Connecticut releases age-enhanced photo of missing girl

The Ansonia, Connecticut, Police Department released an age-enhanced photo of a one-year-old girl who has been missing since December 2019 after her mother was found deceased. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) created the photo of Vanessa Morales to enlist the public in finding the missing girl. A man has pleaded not guilty after being charged with murdering Vanessa’s mother.

North Dakota considers Ashanti Alert for missing adults

North Dakota may create an Ashanti Alert system to notify the public when an adult between the ages of 18 and 64 goes missing. The alert would fill the gap for cases that are not covered by an AMBER Alert or Silver Alert.

Elizabeth Smart kicks off self-defense program in Utah

Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart offered a free workshop in St. George, Utah, to help girls and women protect themselves from being kidnapped. The Smart Defense program was created to give tools needed to stop a potential threat or escape an attacker. The program is already established in two communities in Northern Utah.

Marianas Islands initiates AMBER Alert program

The Marianas Islands in the Northwest Pacific now has an AMBER Alert program to notify the public about an abducted child in the U.S territory. Federal legislators passed a bill in January 2021 that allows Marianas law enforcement officers to issue AMBER Alerts for abducted children. The AMBER Alerts Nationwide Act also provides the financial and technical resources from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Transportation to implement the alerts.