The AMBER Alert Program is credited with helping save the lives of nearly 500 children since its Texas beginnings in 1996. This voluntary partnership among law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies and the wireless industry activates urgent bulletins about child-abduction cases. The goal is to quickly galvanize an entire community or region to assist in searching for and safely recovering the child. All 50 states have a version.
Nonetheless, no AMBER Alert was issued for two young Evansdale, Iowa, girls who have been missing since Friday. Why not? Authorities said there has been no evidence suggesting they were abducted.
Yes, that’s one of the rules. It’s at the top of the U.S. Department of Justice AMBER Alert guidelines: “Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place.”
Still, it seems a waste not to use the system in the Evansdale case, or others like it.
Even if it turns out that cousins Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook, 10, were not abducted and are found alive — as we all are hoping for — would there have been much harm in using AMBER Alert to help gain the public’s attention and assistance in generating more tips and leads?
As of Tuesday evening, draining of the lake where the two girls’ bicycles were found nearby was progressing to ensure that a drowning fate could be ruled out. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. Police experts say that the longer a child is missing, the worse the outlook for their safe recovery.
AMBER Alert has enormous reach, including electronic traffic signs and special apps for all wireless users. You could argue that it’s become synonymous with missing kids. And at the time this page went to press, two Evansdale girls were still missing.
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