Preventing child abduction: Arizona Amber Alert system

YUMA, Ariz. – Since 2002 the Arizona Amber Alert system has been broadcast 81 times. The system was put into place to monitor child abduction.

Arizona Amber Alert coordinator, Art Brooks, says the system would not be as effective if the plan did not have a set of strict guidelines for law enforcement to follow.

“It’s built for only the extreme cases. It is not for missing children it’s for abducted children,” said Art Brooks.

The latest Amber Alert and the only to come out of Yuma since the system was put into place was Wednesday, January 6, just before 10 p.m. Yuma police were searching for three children who were ultimately found safe with family members.

The kids were located 36 minutes after the alert was broadcast. Authorities say the quick response was due to the Amber Alert broadcast. They depend on the public to help them find missing or abducted people.

“We have to investigate to find out if it was an abduction or was it just a missing person, but we’re going to go full force to find out what it is,” said Sgt. Lori Franklin of the Yuma Police Department.

According to Arizona Amber Alert the first one to two hours are the most critical in cases of child abduction. National statistics prove the chance of finding a child alive reduces by 75 percent after the first three hours the child is taken.

The Yuma Police Department said last year there were 246 missing person reports filed and eight kidnapping cases. Authorities say that while both are equally as important, child abduction has urgency because it is likely the abductor has bad intensions.

“If this person is going to abduct a child or an adult they’ve got foul means running through them,” Franklin said.

Local law enforcement are initially responsible for determining if the child is in imminent danger. Once a specific criterion is met local law enforcement sends the information to Arizona Department of Public Safety. DPS is responsible for double-checking the information. Once DPS determines the information provided is accurate they are the only state agency able to approve activation of an Amber Alert.

“If we were over-using the alerts, say ten a year, can you imagine how it would desensitize the public,” said Brooks.

For more information on protocol: go to AZAmberAlert.org.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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