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Fy '04 Budget Request Seeks $2.5 Million For System To Help Find Missing Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an effort to expand the Administration's ability to assist locating missing children, Attorney General John Ashcroft today announced that the Justice Department is seeking $2.5 million in new funding for the AMBER Alert system.

"Nothing hits home more than a missing child and nothing galvanizes law enforcement and the communities they serve more than finding that missing child and returning him or her home safely," Ashcroft said. "The AMBER Alert system is helping communities respond more rapidly to find abducted children and catch the predators."

The AMBER Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases.

In October 2002, President Bush directed the Departments of Justice and Transportation to develop training and education programs to improve the growing nationwide network of AMBER Alert plans. At that time, DOJ and DOT provided $10 million from existing funds to establish the national AMBER Alert program that is coordinated by the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The Office of Justice Programs currently has high quality training and technical assistance programs in place that teach law enforcement to respond swiftly and conduct a thorough investigation when a child has been abducted.

"We believe the AMBER alert program can play an increasingly important part in the Bush administration's effort to help locate missing children, "Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said. "The U.S. Department of Transportation will continue to work with the Justice Department in making the AMBER alert program as successful as possible."

If approved, the new funds will be used to: (1) develop and provide the requisite training for effective AMBER alert systems to law enforcement and others over a two-year period; and (2) provide radio stations with the software needed to upgrade emergency alert systems to ensure that stations can broadcast an AMBER missing child


alert. OJP estimates that approximately 10,000 radio stations need to upgrade their emergency alert systems with the proper AMBER Alert code.

"Training law enforcement and broadcast personnel to establish and implement a sound AMBER plan is vital to the swift recovery of a child in imminent danger of physical harm," Ashcroft said.

Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System to initially deliver information about an abducted child to the community, in the critical first hours after the abduction. Instantly, a description of the abducted child and the suspected abductor is broadcast to millions of listeners and viewers. Over 82 state, local and regional jurisdictions have adopted an AMBER Plan, which has been credited with recovering 34 children since 1996.