This Sunday, Jan. 13, 2012, is National AMBER Alert Awareness Day. Each year, on Jan. 13, the U.S. Department of Justice remembers the abduction and brutal murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, for whom the AMBER Plan was named.
History of the AMBER Alert
On Jan. 13, 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle behind a grocery store near her Arlington, Texas home. An observer saw her pulled from her bicycle and thrown into the back of a pickup truck. Amber’s body was found in a drainage ditch four days after she vanished, only three miles from the store. Police say her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.
The AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert was created after her tragic death.
2012 Florida Success Stories
This year, two children in Florida were safely recovered as a direct result of the AMBER Alert.
In March, a 2-week-old infant was abducted from West Palm Beach by a woman who befriended the mother online. The Missing Endangered Person’s Information Clearinghouse (MEPIC) conducted research, identified the suspect and issued an AMBER Alert. A citizen saw the AMBER Alert and provided information that led to the safe recovery of the child.
In October, a 1-year-old boy from North Miami Beach was forcibly abducted along with his mother by the child’s father, who had an extensive criminal history and felony warrants. The vehicle involved was spotted by Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Mauricio Vasconcelos, who had seen the AMBER Alert. Trooper Vasconcelos conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and safely recovered the mother and child.
AMBER Alert in Florida
FDLE, in conjunction with the Division of Emergency Management and the Florida Association of Broadcasters, Inc., established the Florida AMBER Plan in 2000. Florida was the second state in the nation to take the partnership for AMBER Alerts statewide. Since that time, the AMBER Plan has expanded to include billboards, dynamic highway message signs, lottery machines and social networking.
In 2003, FDLE established the Missing Child Alert as a complement to the AMBER Alert. If there is no indication of abduction but the child is believed endangered, the Missing Child Alert provides a standardized method to request public assistance.
Each year, approximately 40,000 missing child reports are filed in Florida, with the majority of those being reported as runaways. MEPIC issued nine AMBER Alerts and 31 Missing Child Alerts last year.
More than 20,000 citizens have signed up at www.missingchildrenalert.com to receive Florida AMBER Alerts via email. FDLE encourages citizens to sign up to receive these free alerts to help law enforcement quickly recover children when they go missing.
Sign up Drive
In conjunction with AMBER Alert Awareness Day, FDLE is encouraging Florida citizens to sign up to receive AMBER Alerts. Each day next week, FDLE’s Facebook page will feature tips for caregivers and will remind people to take five minutes to sign up. http://www.facebook.com/FDLEpage
For more information about Florida’s AMBER Alert and to view unresolved alerts, visit our website at www.fdle.state.fl.us. For cyber safety tips, visit http://www.secureflorida.org/