Heartland AMBER Alert Coverage Is Piecemeal

Heartland AMBER Alert Coverage Is Piecemeal
By: Arnold Wyrick

An amazing ending to a nine month long abduction of Elizabeth Smart in Utah, has her father and many others asking Congress to pass a National AMBER Alert system.

The AMBER Alert system was began after 9 year old Amber Hagerman of Arlington Texas, who disappeared while riding her bicycle in 1996. She was found murdered four days later. While the alert system is named after Hagerman, AMBER also stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. 

Currently there are 31 states with an AMBER Alert system in place. But here in the Heartland there's only one, and that's Illinois. "As time goes by the probability of apprehending the abductor and returning the victim to safety gets smaller and smaller," says Roy Minor Public Information Officer for the Illinois State Police. "With the mobility of todays society, in just a short time the victim could be miles away from the abduction site," said Trooper Minor.

But with the AMBER Alert system the information about the child can get out to more then just the police. "That's what the system was designed for, is to get the information out to the citizens, people listening to the radio, or watching TVs. So that everyone can key into the fact that we have a child in danger," Trooper Minor said.

Since the system was put into place in Illinois in February 2002, it's been activated twice. Both times the child was safely returned to their home. But in Missouri there's an effort underway to put an AMBER Alert system in place. And in Tennessee they'll have a system in place by the end of 2003, and highway signs in place the year after. On Thursday Kentucky Governor Paul Patton signed a bill into law to create an AMBER Alert system in that state.

If you would like to know more about the Amber Alert system just click on this link www.amberalertnow.org to find out how you can get involved in the efforts to bring the system to your state.