What is the criteria for Amber Alerts?

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Of 141 abductors involved in Amber Alerts in 2019, 101 had known relationships with the children, according to the 2019 Amber Alert Report. In fact, 46 percent of abductors were the fathers of the children and 28 percent were the mothers.

“The vision for the Amber Alert system I think is primarily for those non-custodial instances. If someone’s mom or dad has the kids and they’re not supposed to, that’s entirely a different matter than someone barging into some stranger’s home at three A.M. and kidnapping those children.” says Connor Boyack, the president of Libertas Institute.

He says too many Amber alerts are about custody disputes, and many people are tired of getting a high number of notifications. “The current process is really setting up for failure those instances where we really need the public to come together, where most people I know just disable them because they’re disgusted with the overuse of the system,” he says.

Amber Alerts go out when a child, 17 and younger is abducted, believed to be in imminent danger, and the public may be able to aid law enforcement in recovering the child safely, according to Joe Dougherty, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety. The Amber Alert criteria is consistent across the nation, and local law enforcement agencies make the call on if an Amber Alert is warranted for each case.

“I think the important thing is for people to have a little humility for themselves to realize, they don’t know the whole story,” says Dougherty, who emphasizes each Amber Alert sent out is not just a custody dispute, but a serious case. “It’s easy to jump to a conclusion when you see it’s a parent or family member that is involved, but please understand these law enforcement agencies have been trained and the only reason they’re sending those alerts out is because a kid is in danger right now,” he says.

From its inception in 1996, 1,074 children have been found thanks to Amber Alerts.

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