Amber Alert: Governor makes Jan. 13 an official day of awareness about child safety network

Jan. 13 is AMBER Alert Day in Oregon.

Gov. John Kitzhaber issued the proclamation on Thursday, signaling the state’s resolve to bring attention to an important child safety network.

The AMBER Alert plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and local broadcasters to send an emergency alert to the public when a child has been abducted and it is believed the child’s life is in danger.

AMBER Alert refers not to the color equivalent of “caution,” but to Amber Hagerman, a young girl in Arlington, Texas. The anniversary of the Amber Alert program sadly remembers her abduction 18 years ago as she rode her bicycle and was later brutally murdered.

The acronym created for the network is Amber: America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.

It provides emergency broadcast messages to the public when law enforcement determines a child has been abducted. All 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia have established AMBER Alert plans, creating the most significant child recovery network in the history of our country.

An AMBER alert came out of the Gorge just less than a year ago when a boy in The Dalles was taken from his home by a 36-year-old male after the man assaulted the boy’s mother and an adult male friend with a hammer. The Dalles Police Department responded to investigate and requested OSP activate an AMBER Alert.

About an hour and 40 minutes after the reported abduction, an AMBER Alert was activated in Oregon and information distributed to media partners and the public. OSP staff established a tip line call center and this was the first AMBER Alert activation in Oregon that also alerted the public via an important secondary distribution avenue through the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) program, which is also known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System. About 90 minutes after the AMBER Alert was activated, the child was safely recovered and the suspect arrested.

The governor’s proclamation follows the second busiest year for Oregon’s AMBER Alert program. The Oregon State Police joins the U.S. Department of Justice, AMBER Alert coordinators at state, regional, tribal and local levels, state Missing Children Clearinghouses and partners commemorating the nation’s eighth AMBER Alert Awareness Day.

Since the program’s inception, the AMBER Alert network has helped find and safely recover more than 672 children across the country. During the 11 years since the State of Oregon announced implementation of a statewide AMBER Alert Plan, Oregon has activated an AMBER Alert 22 times for cases originating in Oregon and from other states. Twenty-four children who were the focus of the AMBER Alert were safely recovered.

During 2013, four AMBER Alerts were activated in Oregon for abducted children; half of which were out-of-state requests after information indicated the child and suspect may be traveling in Oregon.

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