Covering Louisiana

Jan 14, 2014 12:46 PM by MELISSA CANONE

State Police Acknowledge National AMBER Alert Awareness Day

On January 13, 2014,the Louisiana State Police joined the nation and acknowledged National AMBER Alert Awareness Day, which the U.S. Department of Justice declared to increase awareness of the AMBER Alert program and encourage public engagement in the safe recovery of abducted children.

The AMBER Alert program was named after nine year-old Amber Hagerman who, on January 13, 1996, was abducted from a Dallas, Texas area neighborhood and murdered. Following Amber's tragedy, a concerned citizen's idea evolved into the first AMBER Alert plan which served as a model nationwide for alerting the public about abducted children.

The Louisiana AMBER Alert plan became operational in 2002 and is managed by the Louisiana State Police. It is a statewide, cohesive effort between law enforcement and broadcasters whose goal is to safely locate an abducted child within the critical two-to-three hour time period following abduction. The plan is not designed for custodial conflicts. While AMBER Alert is a national effort, there is not one, unified plan among all 50 states. Some states have statewide plans, while other states may have plans on a regional or metropolitan level and each plan operates independently of one another. In fact, there are over 100 plans in the country and many are not interoperable. The Louisiana AMBER Alert plan is one statewide plan which can act in conjunction with other plans if so requested.

Since the inception of the Louisiana AMBER Alert plan through the end of 2013, there have been 10 activations for Louisiana children and 2 for out-of-state activation requests. In all 12 cases, the children were safely located. A total of 679 children have been successfully recovered in the United States because of the AMBER Alert system.

Activation of a Louisiana AMBER Alert involves utilizing a number of resources, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) which provides notification to the public through wireless carriers, content providers and major retailers. Today NCMEC announced the launch of an AMBER AlertTM Twitter account. Using the handle @AMBERAlert , the new account will help abducted children alerts reach the approximately 49 million monthly Twitter users in the United States. Twitter users, who follow the @AMBERAlert handle will automatically receive all AMBER Alerts in their Twitter feed.

"Each year there is an average of 100-150 children who are victims of abduction in this country," explained Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson, "and it is critical that law enforcement, media, and public work together in an urgent effort to effectively and efficiently locate an abducted child immediately following a verified abduction. Saving that child's life is the number one priority and to apprehend the abductor becomes our next priority."

What to do if your child is missing:

· Immediately call your local law enforcement agency.

· Be able to provide law enforcement with your child's name, date of birth, height, weight and descriptions of any other unique identifiers such as eyeglasses and braces. Tell them when you noticed your child was missing and what clothing he or she was wearing. Be prepared to provide a recent photo of your child and any information that could help identify your child or abductor, such as vehicle and license plate information.

For more information on the Louisiana AMBER Alert program, including guidelines and criteria, visit <http://www.lsp.org/amber.html>

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