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Amber Alert Program Technology

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Publication Date: November 2008

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS21453

Topic: Social conditions (Safety and security)

Abstract:

Amber Alerts (also referred to as AMBER plans) use technology to disseminate information about child abductions in a timely manner. Research has found that most abducted children murdered by their kidnappers are killed within three hours of the abduction. Prompt response to child abductions is therefore deemed critical by many. Amber Alert plans are voluntary partnerships including law enforcement agencies, highway departments, and communications companies that provide emergency alerts.

Technologies used for alerts include the Emergency Alert System (EAS), highway messages boards, telephone alert systems, the Internet, text messaging, and e-mail. Over 100 communities have Amber Alert programs and all 50 states have statewide alert plans. Because kidnappers can cross state lines with their victims, the Department of Justice will often be involved in responding to an abduction. For this and other reasons there is increased federal involvement in and support of Amber Alert plans.

This report deals with technology and related policy issues. Other CRS reports discuss protective programs for minors and current legislation. This report will be updated to reflect significant changes in technology.