If you have a WEA-enabled phone, you are automatically enrolled for the three alerts: President, Imminent Threat and AMBER Alerts. The addition of AMBER Alerts to this notification system is a result of a partnership between CTIA and the wireless industry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Any questions or concerns on the AMBER Alert message received on your phone should be directed to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), who manages the secondary distribution of AMBER Alerts.
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The AMBER ;Alert Plan uses the Emergency Alert System (EAS), via the code CAE – Child Abduction Emergency, to warn citizens by radio and television when a child abduction has occurred. The emergency alert contains information regarding the victim, the suspect and if applicable the suspects vehicle information. This allows the citizens and the media to assist police by getting the message out immediately and reporting sightings of the child, perpetrator, or any other associated information. If a person does have information concerning an abduction they should report that information immediately to police by calling 911. The ultimate goal is to save the life of a child.
In order for the Pennsylvania AMBER Alert Plan to be activated, law enforcement must be satisfied the following criteria have been met:
- The abducted child must be under eighteen (18) years of age;
- The abducted child is believed to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury;
- Additional factors are considered in the decision making process as to whether or not to activate the PA AMBER Alert Plan. These factors include, but are not limited to: availability of descriptive information which could assist in the recovery of the child, time elapsed since the child was last seen, and reliability of witness(es).
The plan is limited to "abducted" children, and, therefore, excludes children believed to be runaways or throwaways from home.
After a police department initiates an investigation of an abducted child and all of the above criteria have been met, State Police will analyze the reported information. If there is enough information available to believe that an activation will assist in the recovery of the child, the AMBER Alert Plan will be put into effect. Timing is critical in a child abduction case. We encourage investigators to report a case immediately in order to get information out to the public so the child can be found unharmed. This plan can be activated anywhere in the Commonwealth. The plan can also be utilized for interstate abductions through a cooperative effort with other states across the nation.
The Pennsylvania State Police coordinates AMBER Alert efforts with the help of stakeholders from PEMA, PENNDOT, PA Turnpike, PA Association of Broadcasters, PA Newspaper Association, PA Broadband Cable Association, PA Chiefs of Police Association, Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission, PA Lottery Commission and the Outdoor Advertising Association of PA.
MEPA criteria include the following considerations:
- The incident circumstances do not meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert, and
- The person(s) are missing under unexplained, involuntary, or suspicious circumstances, or
- The person's age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions, places the missing person in peril of serious bodily injury or death, and
- If information is distributed to the public, it could assist in their safe recovery.
Other relevant factors:
- Quality/quantity of descriptive information
- Time elapsed since last seen
- Reliability of witnesses