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What Happens When There's An Amber Alert

There's a reason Amber Alerts are broadcast over the Emergency Alert System: Amber Alerts are true emergencies. A child has been abducted. More than that, the police think that the child is in real danger of being hurt, or being killed.

How it Works

The Minnesota Amber Alert program was established in 2002 to dramatically increase the visibility of certain kinds of child abduction cases. Here's how it works: Local law enforcement agencies contact the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) if an abduction case meets the Amber plan checklist. The BCA reviewed the information to confirm whether it meets the criteria, and if so, gathers additional information and photographs, then issues the Amber Alert via the Minnesota Crime Alert Network and the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

Some cases meet Crime Alert criteria, but not Amber Alert criteria. When that happens, a Crime Alert will be issued.

The EAS broadcasts on radio and television, and the Crime Alert is distributed to media outlets statewide. In addition, MNDOT message boards, ClearChannel billboards and other means are used to blanket the state with messages about the Amber Alert. Law enforcement, the BCA and the media all follow specific repeatable procedures for every Amber Alert.

Minnesotans Play a Crucial Role

BCA Administrative Services Director Janell Rasmussen also serves as the Minnesota Amber Alert state coordinator. Rasmussen said the people of Minnesota play a crucial role in getting Amber Alerts broadcast.

"The Amber Alert program is supported through donations from Minnesotans, particularly through the Amber Alert Fundraiser group," Rasmussen said.

Sign Up to Receive Amber Alerts

There are several ways to receive Amber Alerts:

  • Wireless Emergency Alerts - cell phones capable of receiving the alerts will receive the Amber message unless its owner opts out.
  • Tweets - sign up for the BCA Twitter page. Only information on Amber Alerts is posted on this page.
  • Facebook - become a fan of the BCA Facebook page. All Amber Alerts are posted here.
  • Crime Alert - receive notices about Amber Alerts via email or fax through the Crime Alert Network (Amber Alerts are free of charge).

These options are in addition to the radio broadcasts, billboards and television scrolls and all speak to the urgent need to get the information out about an abducted child.

There have been 28 Amber Alerts in Minnesota since the program's inception. All 28 children have been located. The BCA and all agencies involved with the program are proud of this success to date, and know full well that it is in great part due to the people of Minnesota stepping up when a child is most in need of help.

Learn more about Minnesota's Amber Alert program