How do AMBER Alerts work?
Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets the recommended criteria from the U.S. Department of Justice for activating an alert.
Guidance on Criteria for Issuing AMBER Alerts (PDF)
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement an abduction has occurred
- The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger
- The law-enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child
- The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer
It is important to note that though it is suggested “…what began as a local effort in Dallas, Texas, has grown into a seamless system of AMBER Alert programs across the country…” it is at the discretion of local law enforcement if it should be issued and to each state as to whether it is valid across state lines.