The Origin of the Amber Alert

The Origin of the Amber Alert

If a child has been abducted in your area then you've most likely seen messages on the news or on electronic highway signs providing information about the issue such as the child's name and the car he or she was abducted in. The wide public spread of this information greatly enhances the chance of a safe recovery of a child, and these messages have been coined as Amber Alerts. How did this public warning system get its name?

The term Amber Alert traces its origin back to 1996 in Arlington, Texas. Here, a 9 year-old girl named Amber Hagerman was riding her bike when a man grabbed her, threw her into a pickup truck and drove off. A neighbor who witnessed the event called police and the search was on.

Other neighbors were interviewed and TV and radio programs ran the story in their newscasts. Sadly, four days later Amber's body was found in a drainage ditch; the case was never solved.

Following the incident, citizens started calling in to radio stations to suggest that they always announce alerts when abductions of children occur so that no other child would have to go through what Amber did. Listening the the public concern, radio managers linked up with local law enforcement to be able to receive warnings for broadcast swiftly after an abduction occurs.

In 2003, President Bush signed legislation to make the Amber Alert system a national program.

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