Governor Ivey Requests Change in AMBER Alert Criteria After Bessemer Incident
MONTGOMERY – On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, one hour and forty minutes after an incident in which a vehicle was stolen with a child inside, Bessemer police requested the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to issue an AMBER Alert for the child. Based on the criteria in place at that time, the incident did not meet the previously adopted requirements for an AMBER Alert to be issued. In reviewing this situation, Governor Kay Ivey asked ALEA Acting Secretary Hal Taylor to revise the state’s AMBER Alert Guidelines.
As a result of Governor Ivey’s request, Secretary Taylor announced today that the finding of an “abduction” shall no longer be required for an AMBER Alert to be issued. As of today because of Ivey’s involvement, Alabama’s policy will mirror the United States Department of Justice’s recommended criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts. This policy change will result in more AMBER Alerts being issued in the state, and therefore, will ensure that missing children are found more quickly due to the public’s having been informed about a child’s disappearance.
“We need to protect the children of our state. Though we pray that an AMBER Alert is never needed, I asked Secretary Taylor to broaden the scope of our AMBER Alert requirements to safeguard as many children as possible,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “This change today ensures that we are keeping the public better informed. AMBER Alerts give all Alabamians the opportunity to be involved in caring for our most vulnerable asset, our children.”
“It is the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s goal to rescue abducted and missing children. By expanding our criteria for issuing an AMBER alert, we will further that goal, and hopefully, make sure that as many vulnerable children as possible are protected from those whom would do them harm,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor added. “Due to ongoing investigations, we may not always release why an alert may or may not be issued, but we will ensure that all cases are evaluated against this new standard.”
Whenever a local law enforcement agency believes an AMBER Alert may be needed, it should immediately contact the 24-hour Alabama Missing Person’s Hotline at (800) 228-7688. The public may sign up for AMBER Alerts on the ALEA web site at www.alea.gov. The new guidelines can be found at www.amberalert.gov/guidelines.htm.
The new Alabama AMBER Alert guidelines are in effect immediately.