2001 : Michigan’s First Amber Alert Anniversary

June 24, 2024 all-day

Since it launched in Michigan in 2001, 295 of 304 children involved in AMBER Alerts have been recovered alive. The Michigan Association of Broadcasters spends between $35,000 and $40,000 a year to fund the program, President and CEO Karole White said.

For the full article, see Elisha Anderson, “On anniversary of Michigan’s 1st Amber Alert, mother reflects on daughter it saved”, Detroit Free Press, June 24, 2011.

Why Michigan Amber Alerts are issued only in most serious abduction cases : MSP spokeswoman explains criteria for issuing Amber Alerts (WDIV, Channel 4, April 16, 2017

Amber Alerts are only for abductions of children who are under 18 years old and are in danger. A vehicle license number is no longer required.

Amber Alerts are urgent bulletins that interrupt radio and television broadcasting and send wireless emergency alerts to cellphones.

Other cases use an endangered missing advisory, which has no age restriction and can be issued for children or adults. In those cases, law enforcement notifies the media about the missing person. Unlike during an Amber Alert, there is no emergency alert system to interrupt broadcasting on radio or television, and there is no alert sent to cellphones.

There are several different types of missing cases, including runaways and parental abductions. Each case is evaluated separately.

“That’s why it’s a hard job, and I get a lot of pressure to put an alert out on every kid that goes missing, but could you imagine just the volume of them that are going out?” Michigan State Police spokeswoman Sarah Krebs said. “We really have to have criteria in place to decide what ones get an alert and what ones do not.”

Krebs said parental abductions happen every day. She said that in those situations, there is a big difference between a parent who takes a child because they want parenting time with them and a parent who takes a child because they want to harm them. In a parental situation, an Amber Alert would be issued only if there is a threat to the child.

During an Amber Alert, personal cellphones receive alerts. Krebs said the alerts reach the general public, and often the people being sought, during a particular Amber Alert.

“Our suspects are getting that wireless alert,” Krebs said. “We have seen many children returned almost immediately after that wireless alert going out. The child is recovered, and it’s because it gets their attention, too. I think, sometimes, in the heat of the moment and the emotion of it, they don’t realize what a big deal this was until they get that Amber Alert on their phone.”

For more information on Michigan’s missing child alert policies, click here.

The Story of Amber Hagerman


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