The AMBER Alert Plan is a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies and local broadcasters within the State of Washington. The goal of the plan is the safe and swift return of children who are abducted or become missing under specific criteria, by providing accurate information to the public and gaining their assistance in locating the child.
The Washington Statewide AMBER Alert Plan is named for nine-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas. In 1996, she was abducted while riding her bicycle and brutally murdered. This Plan organizes a rapid response by law enforcement, broadcasters and the public to recover an abducted child and apprehend the suspect.
A national study conducted by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office found that nearly seventy-five percent of the nation’s children who were abducted and murdered were dead within three hours of the time of their abduction. Given this small window of opportunity for a safe recovery of an abducted child, the police community must depend on the assistance of concerned citizens to help with the safe recovery of our children.
The purpose of the AMBER Alert Plan is to utilize the local and statewide radio and television media and the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) to assist police departments in the recovery of an abducted child. The local law enforcement agency initiating an Amber Alert will notify the Washington State Patrol who, in turn, will use the EAS (Emergency Alert System) to notify the media and DOT of the Amber Alert activation. Radio and television media will broadcast the description of the missing child, details of the abduction, abductor information, vehicle information, possible direction of travel and any other information deemed helpful by the investigating agency. DOT will place similar, though abbreviated, information on freeway traffic signs. The broadcast will advise the public to call 911 with any possible information regarding the Alert.
Law enforcement agencies within Washington state that do not have an authorized local AMBER Alert Plan by January 1, 2005, will be incorporated into the state plan headed by the Washington State Patrol. When requested by a local law enforcement agency within the state plan to activate an Amber Alert, the Washington State Patrol will have sole authority to approve and activate the Alert or decline the request and not activate the Alert. When a local law enforcement agency is a member of an authorized local Amber Alert Plan, the Washington State Patrol will automatically begin activation of the requested Amber Alert.