Criteria for issuing an Amber Alert
What are the criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts? Each state AMBER Alert plan has its own criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts. The PROTECT Act, passed in 2003, which established the role of AMBER Alert Coordinator within the Department of Justice (DOJ), calls for DOJ to issue minimum standards or guidelines for AMBER Alerts that states can adopt voluntarily. DOJ's guidance on criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts is:
- Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place
- The child is at risk of serious injury or death
- There is sufficient descriptive information of child, captor, or captor's vehicle to issue an alert
- The child must be 17 years old or younger
- It is recommended that immediate entry of AMBER Alert data be entered in FBI's National Crime Information Center. Text information describing the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the child should be entered, and the case flagged as Child Abduction.
Why can't law enforcement issue an Amber Alert for ALL missing children?
To answer this let's take a look at some numbers.
A child goes missing every 41 seconds
2,100 children are reported missing every day
800,000 per year
upwards of 500,000 more per year are never reported
It would be logistically impossible to post every child on the Amber Alert System.
If the Amber Alert System ran continuously people would not pay attention to it and it would become ineffective. It would become just another flashing sign to ignore on the highway.
The sad fact is that to keep the system running effectively for the best chance of recovery criteria must remain in place.
Because of the Amber Alert System over 500 children have been recovered. The system is working.