What is an AMBER Alert?

An AMBER Alert is an urgent bulletin put out when a family abduction has taken place. Issued across all forms of media, it gives the physical description of both child and perpetrator. Along with the physical characteristics of perpetrator and victim, the license plate number and make and model of the crime vehicle is also included.


AMBER Alerts use the Emergency Alert System to broadcast to news, on-air, and Internet media outlets. Other outlets include electronic highway billboards and other billboard entities such as Clear Channel.

The responsibility of issuing an AMBER Alert usually comes under the jurisdiction of highway patrol or state trooper agencies, which involve themselves in investigation of the abduction.

AMBER Alerts operate under guidelines created by the U.S. Department of Justice and are strictly conformed to. Four requirements of issuing an AMBER Alert include the following:

1. policing agency needs verification that abduction has occurred.
2. abductee must be in grave danger.
3. adequate physical characteristics of abductee, abductor and their car and license plate.
4. abductee must be a minor.

Child abduction is taken so seriously that AMBER Alert information is sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Crime Information Center.

A brief history of the AMBER Alert began with the kidnap and murder of Amber Hagerman in 1996. Her death led to the creation of People Against Sex Offenders and the Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act of 1996. Eventually news media and police agencies joined forces to begin issuing AMBER Alerts.

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