I couldn’t be happier that Hannah Anderson was rescued and that the Amber Alert was effective in her case. Unfortunately, too many deserving kids fall through the cracks through carved in stone criteria, time delays or other bureaucratic nonsense. I have listed my problems with the Amber Alert and easy fix solutions. The problem is that the architects of the system, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are more concerned with control than efficiency than saving children. Therefore I doubt that my criticisms will be heard.
- Statewide alerts are mindless. States have borders, but kidnappers do not. In the Anderson kidnapping I received an Amber Alert, yet I live 500 miles away from the crime scene, while people in Yuma, AZ did not receive the Amber Alert despite the fact that they live about 110 miles from the crime scene. I recommend a radius around the crime scene that is not bound by borders.
- The current iteration of the smart phone Amber Alert provides sketchy information and cannot be easily verified. Provide a link or other easy reference.
- Local authorities should be able to issue Amber Alerts within their jurisdiction. Kicking responsibility up the ladder to a State authority wastes time, results in filtered information and costs lives. Currently, it takes far too long to issue an Amber Alert and statistics clearly state that if a child is murdered as a result of a kidnapping, almost ¾ of those children will be dead within a 3-hour radius.
- Don’t alienate your audience. Issuing a bleating Amber Alert in the dead of night or early hours of the morning will cause people to opt out of the service. A better approach would be to depend upon radio and highway signs in the wee hours to notify those individuals that are on the roadways. Radio is and always has been the primary delivery system for motorists, and motorists are the ones who need to know.
- Fast food outlets, service stations, truck stops, and highway motels should be notified with graphic/text Amber Alert information.
- Don’t be too strict with the Amber Alert criteria. My Polly, Jessica Lunsford, Adam Walsh, Elizabeth Smart wouldn’t qualify under the current system.
- Because of the strict criteria Amber Alert is most useful in family abductions. Predators don’t leave vehicle or license plate information.