The Justice Department announced today that broadcasters across
the country have been asked to air Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the
AMBER Alert network, to honor the memory of Amber Hagerman and as part of the
national awareness campaign for this valuable public safety resource.
have been distributed nationwide by the National Association of Broadcasters and
feature John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted and Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth
Smart, who was abducted from her home in June 2002 and safely recovered nine months later.
Nine years ago today, Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle, and then brutally murdered. The AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert network was created after her tragic death. AMBER Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the
child and the abductor that could lead to the child’s recovery, such as a physical
description and information about the abductor’s vehicle. AMBER Alerts have saved
188 lives since they began in 1996, when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with
local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children.
“Few things grip law enforcement with more urgency than finding a missing child.
Rapid response is vital in abduction cases, and the widespread use of the AMBER
Alert network makes it the nation’s most powerful tool for thwarting child
abductions,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “This cooperative effort among
citizens, public agencies, and private firms is a daunting obstacle to would-be
abductors, so much so that several have surrendered after only a brief flight from
“AMBER Alert is a very successful tool for recovering abducted children. More than185 children have been taken out of harm’s way, and hundreds of parents spared
their worst nightmare,” said Deborah J. Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the
Office of Justice Programs (OJP), who also serves as National AMBER Alert
Coordinator. “We salute the men and women of law enforcement, broadcasting and the public who have worked together to bring abducted children safely home.”
In October 2002, President Bush hosted the first-ever White House Conference on
Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children. Following the 2002 White House
Conference, the Attorney General named Deborah J. Daniels as the National AMBER
Alert Coordinator; and OJP, in partnership with law enforcement, broadcasters and
others-including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children-developed a
national strategy to create a seamless national network of alert systems. The
PROTECT Act, which President Bush signed into law in April 2003, statutorily
established the National AMBER Alert Coordinator role. Since that time, AMBER
Alert has made remarkable progress.
* The recovery of 154 children in just the past two years represents over 80 percent
of all 188 recoveries since AMBER Alert began in Texas in 1996. This is a four-fold
increase in recoveries since October, 2002.
* Over 2000 law enforcement officers, broadcasters and transportation officials have
been trained nationwide in critical aspects of AMBER Alert since October 2002. The
Department of Justice held two national training conferences and one AMBER Alert
* At the end of 2001, there were only four statewide AMBER Alert plans; now, 49
states have plans in place.
* OJP provided Guidance on Criteria for Issuance of AMBER Alerts to law enforcement,
broadcasters, transportation officials, and the general public to aid in the
development of AMBER statewide plans.
* Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that perpetrators are well aware of the power of
AMBER Alert, and have in many cases released an abducted child upon hearing the
Additional information about AMBER Alert can be found in the Report to the White
House on AMBER Alert, which is available on the AMBER Alert website,
www.amberalert.gov . The website features comprehensive
information on AMBER Alert and stories about successful AMBER Alert recoveries.
OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and
control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an
Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices:
the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National
Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,
and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and
Law Enforcement Education, and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program. More information can be found at