What Is The Criteria For An AMBER Alert?
Although National AMBER alert awareness day has passed and the city of Lawton had its own missing child case recently, a few Lawtonians took to social media and questioned why an AMBER alert wasn't given for the missing boy.
AMBER is short for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and for an alert to go out the case has to meet certain criteria "to minimize potentially deadly delays because of confusion among varying jurisdictions."
First, an abduction must be confirmed. Earlier this week, an 8-year-old boy from Lawton was seen getting off the bus at his usual bus stop. Witnesses stated that the boy was by himself and walked by himself and that nothing at the time seemed unusual.
Since there was no confirmed abduction sightings and nothing unusual was reported, Lawton Police could not call for an AMBER alert.
The second criteria is the law enforcement agency has to believe that the child is in immediate danger of serious injury or death. Taking in mind the circumstances of the missing Lawton boy, he had gotten in trouble at school that day, some children will try to delay going home to not face punish.
Considering witnesses statements again the judgement call at the time was 'runaway' not kidnapping. Although as a runaway you have to assume the worse can happen, police just didn't have enough evidence to believe that the boy was in any serious danger to call for an AMBER alert.
The third is sufficient descriptive information. The law enforcement agency must have enough information to describe the abducted child and the abduction itself as well as sufficient information to describe the suspect and the suspect's vehicle. In Tuesday's case, Lawton Police had very little information and the information they did have did not point to a possible abduction.
The fourth, the child must be under 17 years of age. According to the Department of Justice website, all states have adopted that standard. Some states do have younger age requirements before they call an AMBER alert, however all states are required to honor an alert from another state even if it does not meet their age requirements.
Finally, the AMBER alert must be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system and flag the case as child abduction.
For more information on AMBER alerts visit the Department of Justice Programs website.