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Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety


AMBER Alert logoBy 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. Law enforcement must have both parts of the scenario before an activation can occur:

  1. 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,
  2. There is information available to disseminate to the public which could assist with the safe recovery of the victim and/or the apprehension of the suspect.

The Amber Plan is activated by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension only when the two requirements above are met; as a result, 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 law enforcement agency decides to request an activation, they contact the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The BCA reviews the circumstances of the case and available information and upon confirming the requirements are met activates the Minnesota Crime Alert Network (MCAN) and the State Emergency Alert System (EAS).

Public Notification

By activating the EAS, information is 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 hour for the next three hours. The BCA also works with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to activate a Wireless Emergency Alert on cell phones statewide.

Child Recovered

If the child is recovered during the activation period of the alert, the reporting agency must notify BCA. Radio and television stations may follow-up with the law enforcement agency regarding any questions they have regarding the information contained in the alert.

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 meet to review each Amber Alert and make recommendations for any necessary changes to the program.