The following post appears courtesy of Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.
Today’s announcement that the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has partnered with Facebook to distribute AMBER Alerts to its members will expand the reach of these important, live-saving alerts.
The AMBER Alert system began 15 years ago in Arlington, Texas, when local broadcasters joined with law enforcement in the aftermath of Amber Hagerman’s abduction and murder, and it has evolved to include law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, the wireless industry, and others who have joined with us to expand the reach of AMBER Alerts.
Since then the AMBER Alert program has helped find and safely recover 525 abducted children. Real people – terrified children, frightened parents, dedicated law enforcement offices and vigilant community members – are behind these numbers. Last October in California, a gang member grabbed an eight-year-old girl while she playing in front of her house. Her horrified mother ran after the truck, but it was too late. A statewide AMBER Alert was issued. Luckily, a member of the community was watching the local news and saw the AMBER Alert message. When he later spotted the suspect’s car, he followed it and, ultimately, helped to stop the kidnapper from fleeing and to rescue the child.
The new Facebook pages will include one main page as well as 53 local pages, one for each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. By signing up to become a “fan” of the appropriate page, Facebook users can receive AMBER Alerts issued in their regions
. Today’s press conference will be streamed live and archived on the Washington, D.C., Facebook page Livestream player at http://on.fb.me/FBDClive
. It also can be viewed at http://www.livestream.com/facebookdclive
As the National AMBER Alert Coordinator, I am pleased to see the growth of the program’s national network. I would like to thank the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Facebook for working together to develop another way the public can join with us to bring home missing and abducted children. We can all play our part by being aware and responsive to AMBER Alert postings that we will now see on Facebook.