How the Amber Alert Should Work

Amber Alert revI 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.


  1. 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.
  2. The current iteration of the smart phone Amber Alert provides sketchy information and cannot be easily verified. Provide a link or other easy reference.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Fast food outlets, service stations, truck stops, and highway motels should be notified with graphic/text Amber Alert information.
  6. 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.
  7. Because of the strict criteria Amber Alert is most useful in family abductions. Predators don’t leave vehicle or license plate information.



Leave Hannah Anderson Alone

Hannah and her friends

Hannah and her friends

Back off of this child!


Sixteen-year-old Hannah Anderson has experienced a week that most people cannot even imagine. A close family friend betrayed her family in the worst way possible. Her mother and eight-year-old brother Ethan were tortured, murdered and torched on August 4. She was kidnapped and held in captivity for a week by a sadistic psychopath. Finally, on Saturday, August 10, her ordeal ended when her kidnapper was shot and killed before her eyes in Idaho’s Cascade Mountains. Now she is the subject of reckless finger pointing and unfounded speculation. It is never acceptable to blame the victim, and all who do so should be ashamed of themselves.


I have experienced tragedy, and I sat there numb and stoic as family and friends wept upon learning that my daughter Polly was dead back in 1993. I will never forget wondering what was wrong with me as my family returned to Sausalito from Petaluma in a slow grief stricken caravan on the chilly evening of December 4, 1993. It was only hours later that the enormity of my loss finally registered. I exploded in a violent rage. I cursed God, the killer, and even myself for not saving my child. Sometimes, the mind and the heart are not so well synchronized. Sometimes, your understanding belies your emotions. Sometimes, your emotions reject a truth simply because that truth is too painful, too raw, and too devastating to accept.


Hannah has taken heat for engaging social media. People wonder what she was thinking, and why she wasn’t steeped in grief. I took those questions to my friend Alicia Kozakiewicz. In 2002, when she was thirteen-years-old an online predator lured Alicia into his clutches. Four days later she was rescued by the FBI. Now she is a very effective child safety advocate.


Alicia explained that Hannah’s emergence demonstrates how important social media is to kids. Hannah has grown up with social media, she feels very comfortable sharing with people online because it is what kids do. Right now Hannah is emotionally needy, and is seeking comfort and support. She is confused, in shock, and not fully comprehending her situation. Social media, chatting with her peeps, gives her the validation that is otherwise scarce right now. Hannah’s online actions are ill advised, but they are illustrative of child who needs guidance and help, not criticism, innuendo, and condemnation.


It is easy to sit in front of a television set in the comfort of your home, protected from the outside world and armchair-quarterback the issues of the day. However, that doesn’t provide you with insight or secret knowledge. Jim DiMaggio is the criminal in this incident. If you want to point fingers and play the blame game, he is the object of your attention, not his sixteen-year-old victim.  She deserves better than that. Send Hannah your hopes, prayers and good wishes: not your criticism, unfounded speculation and finger pointing.

Quit Whining about the WEA Amber Alert

Hannah Anderson-amber-alertThere has been much criticism about the Amber Alert issued for 16-year-old Hannah and her 8-year-old brother Ethan Anderson. The roll out was an abysmal, screeching mess, which is unfortunate because It has fantastic potential. They simply need to be judicious in the way that an Amber Alert is distributed. Violet and I received the Amber Alert at about 10:45 on Monday evening, yet we live 500 miles from where the crime occurred. There was limited information and no photo’s included in the Alert. We were unable to click on the alert for more details, and could not immediately find anything online. Some people received it more than once throughout the night, and that is going to cause people to opt out of the program.


People have to quit whining and complaining about this on social media, because it is very simple to opt out of receiving WEA Amber Alerts. However, the better solution is for those responsible for issuing the alert, because there are definite steps to maximize and improve the system. It is an absurdist policy to do a statewide distribution when you should be doing a geographically based distribution. Since the majority of abductions are local crimes, the first distribution should be based on a 100-150 mile radial distribution from the crime scene. I received the Alert 500 miles away, but residents of Yuma, AZ did not and they are barely 100 miles away from where Hannah was kidnapped. In other words, you want to put the crime scene in the middle of the distribution, because the kidnapper could theoretically be headed in any direction. Kidnapping is not bound by borders, and neither should Amber Alerts.


They need to include people in the system by being smart, not alienate them by being stupid. Most people want to help, but they don’t want to be unnecessarily bothered. Being woken up multiple times throughout the night by a screeching Amber Alerts will result in large numbers of people opting out of the program. Those in charge say that they want to enlist late night and early morning drivers to be on the lookout for the suspect vehicle. That can be accomplished by simply utilizing radio stations and highway signs. After all, that is where the Amber Alert came from in the first place.

Castro’s Speech Full of “Empty Words”

175273297I was physically shaken by Ariel Castro’s testimony because it returned me to a time seventeen years ago when I sat in a courtroom and listened to another remorseless pervert, my daughter Polly’s killer, excuse and justify his own evil deeds. I am stunned that these guys have a right to speak in open court. Their self-serving lies are nothing more than delusional attempts to cast themselves as victims as they pitifully attempt to redefine unspeakable crimes against innocent and vulnerable victims, but the empty words of a coward cannot erase a lifetime of violence and perversion.


When Castro turned and stared at Michelle Knight, he should have been silenced and removed from the courtroom. Instead, his continued talking as he watched her.  There were enough lawyers in the courtroom that somebody should have objected. Nobody did. His attempt to intimidate Michelle fell flat when he, and not she, looked …