Missouri’s special search program for kidnapped children has started its second decade In fact, it has spun off two other search programs.
Missouri waited seven years after Texas instituted the nation’s first Amber Alert in 1996 before establishing the statewide progrma here. It’s for children seventeen and younger who are kidnapped. The program requires proof that the child is threatened with serious harm or death. The declaration of an Amber Alert triggers radio broadcasts, information posted on transportation department electronic signs, and use of social media to alert the public to look for the kidnapper and the child.
Highway Patrol Captain Greg Kindle says the track record is good. “On an average, Missouri does about five or six true Amber Alerts in a year…The high looks to me like eleven in one year….I think there was only two in the records where the child was killed before we recovered the child,” he says.
The most recent case happened January second when a six-month old child was kidnapped in the southwest Missouri town of Anderson on Friday and found safe, in Florida, last Sunday. Two people are in custody. Kindle says the case is rare because most cases are solved within a couple of days.
Cases that don’t rise to the level of an Amber Alert, or involve people older than seventeen, are classified as Endangered Person Alerts. A special program for senior citizens with dementia is called a Silver Alert.
“Amber” is an anacronym for America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response.” It began when Dallas-Fort Worth police teamed with area broadcasters to distribute information about missing children.