Today is Amber Alert Awareness Day (part 1)
January 13, 2010 marks Amber Alert Awareness Day. The program was created in memory of Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and murdered 14 years ago on January 13, 1996/ Amber Hagerman was riding her bicycling in Arlington, Texas when she was abducted by a man driving in a black pickup truck. Her body was found on January 17, 1996, and an autopsy determined that her throat had been cut. It was also determined that she had been killed on January 15, 1996, a full two days after her abduction. The kidnapping and murder of Amber Hagerman prompted the creation of the national Amber Alert program.
The National Amber Alert program was created in 1996 and has successfully recovered more than 495 children according to the Amber Alert website. The name ‘AMBER’ holds dual meanings. In addition to being named after Amber Hagerman, the name is also an acronym for America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response.
The program is considered to be a voluntary partnership between broadcasters across the nation, law enforcement agencies, and transportation agencies to assist in the recovery of missing children immediately following abduction. New technological advances have now enabled citizens to receive Amber Alert’s via wireless cell phones and on the Internet as well.
The first Amber Alert system was instituted in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area following Amber Hagerman’s abduction. After initial success with the program in Texas, other states began implementing their own versions of the Amber Alert system. Though each state has some degree of variation regarding Amber Alerts, the United States Department of Justice has laid out criteria and guidelines that all states follow.
Though other states began implementing the Amber Alert system, the idea didn’t catch on nationwide as quickly as you might think. By the end of the year 2001, only four states had implemented statewide Amber Alert plans.
In 2002, former president George Bush held a national conference regarding children who were runaways, missing, or exploited. It was the first national conference to be held at the White House and drew attention to the issue of missing and endangered children. The AMBER Alert system became a national topic and more states joined forces. It was at that conference that former president George Bush appointed the first national AMBER Alert coordinator.
On April 30, 2003, former president George Bush also signed the PROTECT Act. The Protect Act set the criteria that would later be used to determine AMBER Alerts across the nation.
Family Photo: In Loving Memory of Amber Hagerman (November 25, 1986 – January 15, 1996)
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Missing Children, Unsolved Child Murders, and Unsolved Amber Alert Cases