Oct 9, 2012 8:35 PM by Siera Santos,

When is an AMBER Alert issued?

As the search continues for missing Jessica Ridgeway, we're reminded of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman - kidnapped and murdered in Arlington, TX in 1996. She's the original "Amber" for what we now call AMBER Alerts.

The "AMBER" in AMBER Alert is an acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. Over 800,000 children are reported missing each year, but few trigger an AMBER Alert. Law enforcement determines when to send out an alert after certain criteria are met.

"If we start doing an alert for anyone who may be missing or who has run away, you're going to minimize the effectiveness of that program and the AMBER Alert program is just so vital right now," says Barbara Miller with the Colorado Springs Police Department.

In Colorado Springs alone, there are 25 to 40 runaway cases each month, which prompts the first criteria: a confirmed abduction. Police must know that the child was abducted or have sufficient evidence to support suspicion of abduction.

Investigators must also believe the child's life is in immediate danger or death. In addition, age is a key component. The child must be under 18. The last criteria is a detailed description.

AMBER Alert says 591 children have been found because of its efforts.




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