SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force announced the 10 year anniversary of the first AMBER (America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert broadcast in Illinois.
Every year, hundreds of children are abducted in Illinois. Most are returned home safely; unfortunately, others are not. The public’s help in locating missing children is critical and the AMBER Alert Task Force relies on tips and information to assist law enforcement’s efforts in finding missing children.
When a child is reported missing, every second counts. That is why the AMBER Alert Program’s greatest tools are the eyes and ears of the public.
The AMBER Alert System is named after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted in 1996 while playing near her home in Arlington, Texas. She was later found murdered. In response to community concern, the Texas Association of Radio Managers, with the assistance of Texas’ local area law enforcement, created the first AMBER Plan. All 50 states now have similar plans.
The Illinois AMBER Alert Notification Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters and the National Weather Service to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases. This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies. The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.
The effectiveness of the system requires collaboration between law enforcement agencies, Illinois Broadcasters, the National Weather Service, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Press Association and the public.
Since its inception, the Illinois AMBER Alert System has been used to broadcast 88 messages of abducted children with the Alert accounting directly for 41 children returned home safely.
In 2012, Illinois has activated six AMBER Alert Broadcasts. In four of those cases, the AMBER Alert was credited with the recovery.
Since 1997, nationwide AMBER Alerts have been credited for over 590 children returned home safely.