With pictures of missing children flashing across billboards on our streets and highways, alerts over our televisions or radio, or in an email or text message blast, AMBER Alerts are hard to miss.
January 13th was National AMBER Alert Awareness Day. This year marked the 17th anniversary of the abduction and death of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Texas. She is the girl who the system is now named and whose death and abduction the U.S. Department of Justice remembers on this day.
According to an FDLE release, Florida established its AMBER Alert Plan 13 years ago. It was the second state in the nation to do so. Since the start of Florida’s program, the AMBER Plan has expanded to include billboards, dynamic highway message signs, lottery machines, email and text messages and messages through social media.
The FDLE has encouraged Floridians to sign up for free AMBER Alerts to help locate and quickly recover children when they go missing.
"The AMBER Alert has made a huge difference in law enforcement's ability to find abducted children," says Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "It's like having thousands of eyes, all at once looking for this child.”
Approximately 40,000 children are reported missing every year in Florida, with the majority of those being reported as runaways. In 2012, the FDLE Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse issued nine AMBER Alerts and 31 Missing Child Alerts.
“Florida’s citizens have been vital to the success of the Florida AMBER Plan,” Commissioner Bailey said. “We encourage Floridians to take a few moments today to sign up to receive AMBER Alert notifications so they can help law enforcement better protect Florida’s children.”
Through their Facebook page, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement offers tips while encouraging people to sign up for its free AMBER Alerts through its website.
More than 20,000 people have signed up to receive Florida AMBER Alerts at www.missingchildrenalert.com.