A cooperative effort between the Michigan State Police, Michigan Sheriffs Association, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.
Click HERE to see active AMBER Alerts.
AMBER Alert is a statewide notification program to help locate abducted children.
The AMBER Alert program is designed to save children by locating abducted children within the first 24-hours which are the most critical hours in an abduction.
The power of free, over-the-air electronic media is the best way to quickly reach Michigan citizens who may have information leading to the return of a missing or abducted child. Through the AMBER Alert program, listeners and viewers will become the eyes and ears for police, and hopefully aid in the return of the child.
AMBER Alert receives no direct state funding. It depends totally on the support of community-minded organizations, companies and individuals. To help support AMBER Alert, click here.
Under Michigan's AMBER Alert program established in 2001, broadcast radio and television stations receive notices via Emergency Alert System (EAS) notification and email from the Michigan State Police. Stations air the information on the notice as often as possible. Additionally, stations include it in their newscasts and continue to cover the alert in your news for the next forty hours.
AMBER Alert is a voluntary program. Because each station is different, stations comply to the best of their ability, within their format, to handle the AMBER Alert notice according to suggested airing instructions.
Statistics show that the sooner the information gets on the air, the greater the chance that the child will be returned. The AMBER Alert system is designed to help disseminate information quickly which will lead to the recovery of an abducted child.
Stations receive the AMBER Alert from the Michigan State Police. The State Police receive notice from local law enforcement agencies when these agencies are investigating an abduction. Only the State Police have the authority to issue an alert, and the State Police have a strict guideline of criteria that must be met in order for an AMBER alert to be activated. Once it is decided to activate an alert, the State Police also determine which regions of the state should be activated.
In January 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was riding her bicycle when a neighbor heard the girl scream.The neighbor saw a man pull Amber off her bike, throw her into the front seat of his pickup truck, and drive away at a high speed. The neighbor called police and provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle, but couldn't recall much else. Arlington Police and the FBI interviewed other neighbors and searched for the suspect and vehicle. Local radio and TV stations covered the story in their regular newscasts. Four days later, Amber's body was found in a drainage ditch four miles away. Her throat had been cut. Her kidnapping and murder remain unsolved.
A concerned citizen contacted a Dallas, Texas, radio station suggesting the idea that Dallas radio stations should repeat news bulletins about abducted children just like they do severe weather warnings. The idea was presented to the general managers of the radio stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.They agreed that such a program would provide an important public service and might help save the life of a child.
The Dallas AMBER Plan was started in July 1997 to help safely recover missing children that police believe have been abducted. Since then, the program has successfully recovered eight children and expanded to other cities and states nationwide.
Although the AMBER Plan is named after Amber Hagerman, this national program is dedicated to all children nationwide who've been abducted. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, up to 4600 children are abducted by strangers every year (about 12 children nationwide every day).
AMBER Alert was launched in Michigan on June 19, 2001.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is a station's liability?
A: There is a very strict protocol that the police agencies use to determine if an abduction has occurred. Every missing child will not necessarily activate the AMBER Alert. The Michigan State Police (MSP) and local law enforcement professionals will make that determination. If you receive calls from citizens about their missing child refer them to the MSP. Only AMBER Alert activations by the MSP protect broadcast stations by statute. MAB received an opinion from libel and first amendment attorney John Ronayne. His opinion states that as long as the information comes to a station from the Michigan State Police, the announcements that the station makes are covered by statute, which protects accurate reports of a "governmental notice, announcement, (or) written.report." (MCLA 600.2911).
Important: stations will notice that the term "alleged abductor" is used. Always use the term "alleged".
Q: Can you tell me more about using EAS?
A:The MAB and its members have made it possible to deliver alerts through the statewide Emergency Alert System. Participating stations receive these alerts in addition to email notifications issued by MSP.
Q: Can a station mention the name and/or broadcast a photo of the child that is abducted?
A: The only information that a station can broadcast will be at the AMBER Alert website as posted by MSP. The child's parents or guardians must give their consent to use the child's name and/or picture.
Q: How does it work?
A: All AMBER Alerts are issued after meeting specific criteria. MSP releases emergency alerts via the Emergency Alert System (EAS) targeted to the area where the missing child was last seen or could be headed. Simultaneously, with EAS activation, the AMBER Alert is posted on the Michigan Amber Alert website, www.amberalertmichigan.org.
You and/or your station may sign up to receive emails or text messages to direct you to the website when AMBER Alerts are issued. Register on-line here.
Q: Will stations receive notice when the child is found?
A: The Michigan State Police headquarters will issue a cancellation when a child is found or the alert is cancelled. There is no cancellation notice via the EAS.
Q: Should calls from the public come to the station?
A: No. Stations should state in the broadcast "do not contact this station". Any information regarding the alerts must go to the local division of law enforcement handling the case or through 911.
Q: How can I better educate my station and ensure that AMBER Alert works well?
A: The MAB has sent all stations a flier, brochure and other information on how AMBER Alert works in Michigan. Stations may request additional copies from MAB to help continue to educate staff. Please post these materials where employees will have access to the information.
Q: Why are broadcasters involved?
A: Radio and television stations believe strongly in serving their local communities. AMBER Alert is one way in which free, over-the-air broadcasters can help the communities they serve.
LINKS TO RELATED WEBSITES
• AMBER Alert Foundation
• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
• Michigan State Police Missing Child Information Clearinghouse
• Michigan State Police
• Download the brochure (in PDF format) explaining Michigan's Amber Alert program.
For questions on Michigan's AMBER Alert program, contact the MAB or MSP.
The MAB is not a law enforcement organization. DO NOT contact the MAB with tips or information on missing children, instead, contact the local police.