The familiar sound pierces the air—a life is in danger.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more than 460,000 children in the U.S. were reported missing in 2017. On October 27, 2018, two separate cases of child abductions sirened with this familiar tone across mobile phones, radio and television all over Southern California. America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, also known as the AMBER Alert, notifies the public in serious cases of child abductions in an attempt to bring them home safely. Although not every child abduction case meets AMBER Alert criteria, the rare incident where two of these alerts sound in the same day allowed room for some serious questions to be addressed.
“I feel like people understand to take the matter seriously,” says PLNU sophomore and biology major, Freda Kallenberg. “But not knowing what to do and where to start with the notification is where I personally struggle.”
A Deputy from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California let us know that these alerts, although overwhelming, shouldn’t be dismissed or left to be silenced on our phones. Where many people don’t know where to start, the Deputy filled us in on a few important ways the public can better understand the circumstance and act upon these wireless emergency alerts.
Know what you’re looking for:
“Keep it simple” reports the Deputy.
With AMBER Alerts, the descriptions that are revealed to the public can become easy to forget— especially when out on the road.
“Knowing the color, make, and the last three digits of the license plate of the given vehicle is a simpler way to remember who and what you’re looking for.”
The Deputy revealed that many perpetrators tend to gravitate toward areas that they know well. If an AMBER Alert is sounding in your area, understand the initial location of the abduction. Some out-of-state AMBER Alert abductions may seem “unrealistic” to investigate as a citizen, but the alert will only sound off in your location if the suspect is expected to travel through the area. As the public, keeping an eye out for these fleeting vehicles separates these children from being harmed and reaching safety.
The worst way to respond to these alerts?
Not responding at all.
Underestimating your own power.
Although these notifications can be easy to swipe and silence, the lives of those at risk shouldn’t be.
The layered process of gathering enough information to qualify for an official AMBER Alert intends that the child is still in extreme danger.
“The public is the best witness and our best resource” reveals the deputy.
According to AmberAlert.gov, “AMBER Alert cases have shown that some perpetrators release the abducted child after hearing the AMBER Alert.”
The ear-piercing ring is made for the attention of the public; it is made to bring awareness and action.
As of March 2018, 924 children were rescued specifically because of the AMBER Alert.