Spokane Sheriff Now Cleared to Directly Issue AMBER Alerts
SPOKANE, Wash. - A plan fine-tuned by Major Crimes Detective Jim Dresback has received Washington State Patrol approval, allowing the sheriff's office to directly issue AMBER Alerts for children adducted from Spokane County.
Previously, the sheriff's major crimes unit had to process Amber Alert requests through the state patrol, possibly causing at least a short delay in the information getting out to area media.
The AMBER Alert plan is named after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas. She was abducted and brutally murdered in January 1996. Details regarding the suspect were provided to police, but there was no system in place to quickly inform the community about the child's abduction and his or her captor.
Through significant community effort, local media devised a plan to immediately broadcast abduction information. In remembrance of Amber, her name became the nationally-recognized acronym for AAmerica's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert System.
In April 2003, Washington State announced plans for a pilot project to test the viability of a multi-state AMBER Alert Web Portal which would offer a single location from which the media, law enforcement and the public could obtain current AMBER Alerts, regardless of the jurisdiction posting the information.
Law enforcement agencies must have a formal policy and a WSP-approved plan to utilize the AMBER Alert Web Portal.
Specific criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert are –
1. The child is under the age of 18 and is known to be abducted and not a runaway or throwaway child.
2. The abducted child is believed to be in danger of death or serious bodily injury.
3. The AMBER Alert activation should occur within four hours of the event unless circumstances or the timeliness of the information dictates otherwise.
4. There must be enough descriptive information available to believe that an AMBER Alert activation will assist in the recovery of the child. Information must include where the abduction took place, a specific physical description of the child and abductor, the place last seen and a description of the suspect's vehicle.
5. The incident must be reported to and be investigated by a law enforcement agency.
Key to the success of any AMBER Alert is the public's perception that the need for information from them is immediate.
Motorists hearing of an AMBER Alert should immediately look at the vehicles around their own to see if they are near the suspect, and then remain on the lookout for the suspect vehicle until the alert is canceled.
Anyone with information about the suspect or victim's location should immediately call 911.
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