By broadcasting frequent public alerts, descriptions and other vital information in the crucial first hours after a child abduction, AMBER Alerts enlist citizens in an effort to recover the child unharmed.
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How it Works
The AMBER Plan requires law enforcement to meet two criteria when evaluating a non-familial child abduction. Police departments must have both parts of the scenario present before an activation can occur:
- The AMBER Plan should be activated when a child 17 years of age or younger is abducted and there is reason to believe the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. AND,
- There is information available to disseminate to the general public which could assist with the safe recovery of the victim and/or the apprehension of the suspect.
The AMBER Plan is activated by a law enforcement agency only when the two requirements above are met; therefore, the AMBER Plan is not activated for every child abduction. In cases where the AMBER Plan criteria are not met, the Minnesota Crime Alert Network may be activated to notify the public and request information on the case.
Law Enforcement Notifies the BCA
When the requirements are met and the decision to activate an alert has been made, the law enforcement agency contacts the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) at (651) 793-7000 to request activation of the AMBER Plan. The BCA activates the MN Crime Alert Network (MCAN) and then works with the duty officer from Homeland Security Emergency Management to activate the alert over the State Emergency Alert System (EAS).
By activating the EAS, information will immediately be delivered to all participating radio and television stations in Minnesota. The AMBER Alert is sent only once via the two mediums to all participating stations. The participating stations should then announce the information every 15 minutes for the first two hours, then every half and hour for the next three hours.
If the child is recovered during the activation period of the alert, the reporting agency must notify BCA. The individual radio and television stations may follow-up with BCA regarding any questions they have regarding the information.
Continuous Improvement of Program
A review committee comprised of people from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety divisions Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Homeland Security Emergency Management, plus representatives from the Minnesota Broadcasters Association will meet to review each AMBER Alert and make recommendations for any necessary changes to the program.