National AMBER Alert Awareness Day recognizes collaborative efforts, successes of program

BATH, Ohio - January 13 is National AMBER Alert Awareness Day, a day to recognize the collaborative efforts and successes of the program, which helps spread the word about abducted children.

It was started in 1996 after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman went missing in Arlington, Texas. She was abducted and later found murdered.

AMBER Alert stands for America's Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response.

To date, more than 595 children nationwide have been successfully recovered as a result of the AMBER Alert program.

In order for a missing child case to qualify for an AMBER Alert:

- the child must be under 18 years old
- abduction possesses a credible threat of immediate danger or serious bodily harm/death
- law enforcement has determined the child is not a runaway and has not been abducted as a result of a custody dispute
- there is sufficient description about the child, abductor, and circumstances surrounding the abduction

Summit County Sheriff's Department inspector Bill Holland stated the AMBER Alert System helps law enforcement by having more eyes and ears available to help find a missing child.

"Time is of the essence and you have to locate that child as soon as possible because if the intent is to harm that child, they harm the child within a short period of time, so obviously we intend on finding that child as soon as possible."

Holland wanted to emphasize to the public that there is no waiting period before a parent should report a child missing. Police should be notified immediately. Parents also need to be prepared.

"If you know where the child was last seen, where they were going, who they were going with, what they were wearing and have a recent picture, that definitely helps law enforcement because it narrows the scope of that search."

Law enforcement also emphasized the importance of having your child fingerprinted and monitoring their internet use.

Ohio's AMBER Alert program uses a variety of distribution methods, including the Emergency Alert System (EAS), electronic billboards, lottery terminals, media partnerships, Twitter, Facebook and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (MCMEC).

You can sign up to receive mobile AMBER Alerts on your smartphone by going to: www.wirelessamberalerts.org.

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