Department of Justice Observes Anniversary of AMBER Alert Program

Jan 13, 2010, 11:06 ET from Office of Justice Programs - U.S. Department of Justice

495 Children Recovered to Date

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs today observes the anniversary of the AMBER Alert program by asking that all individuals assist in the work of recovering abducted children by being aware and responsive to AMBER Alert postings. Since its creation in 1996, the AMBER Alert program has helped to find and safely recover 495 abducted children. Today all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have AMBER Alert plans.

On January 13, 1996, Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle and was then brutally murdered. The AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert network was created after her tragic death. AMBER Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the child and abductor that could lead to the child's recovery, such as physical description and information about the abductor's vehicle. The AMBER Alert program began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children.

"When a child is missing, the focus of the nation is on making a safe recovery," said Laurie O. Robinson, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs and National AMBER Alert Coordinator. "Significant and important advancements to the AMBER Alert program have assisted in these recoveries and energized us to continue improving, strengthening and promoting this important tool."

The AMBER Alert network includes law enforcement, broadcasters, transportation officials, the wireless industry, trucking carriers, retail outlets and many more. The PROTECT Act, signed into law in April 2003, statutorily established the national AMBER Alert Coordinator's role.

Since that time, AMBER Alert has made remarkable progress:

  • All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have AMBER Alert plans, creating a network of plans nationwide to aid in the recovery of abducted children.
  • To protect children from being transported across international borders, the Department of Justice collaborated with the Canadian provinces to expand AMBER Alert into Canada, and is working to expand AMBER Alert into the Mexican border states.
  • Tribal nations are working to develop their own plans tailored to their specific needs so that children in Indian country may benefit from AMBER Alert.
  • Ninety-eight percent of the 495 AMBER Alert recoveries have occurred since AMBER Alert became a nationally coordinated effort in 2002.
  • The AMBER Alert Secondary Distribution Program (AASD) which enhances AMBER Alert activations for law enforcement and the general public, has been widely expanded to include various internet providers, outdoor digital signage systems, coordinated highway networks and public and private employers.
  • Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that perpetrators are well aware of the power of AMBER Alert, and in many cases have released an abducted child upon hearing the alert.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. In addition, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at


SOURCE Office of Justice Programs - U.S. Department of Justice