LUBBOCK, Texas — For many, it’s a familiar notification. An Amber alert, asking folks to look out for a missing child and a suspect.
“Time is of the essence we need to find these kiddos as quick as we can,” said Sergeant for the Texas Department of Public Safety, Johnny Bures. “Sometimes these alerts are loud but they are meant to grab your attention to let you know that ‘Hey this is an emergency. Someone’s child is missing,’ and if this was your kiddo you’d do whatever it takes to try and find them.”
According to the Texas Center for the Missing over 37,000 missing person reports were filed in Texas for children in just 2020, but across the nation less than 200 amber alerts are issued in a year.
“We don’t want to over-use the alert system. We don’t want it to be like car alarms were everyone’s phone is going off all the time that they turn it off or don’t want to listen to it,” said Emergency Alert Specialist for the Texas Center for the Missing, Denise O’Leary.
Which means a missing person case must meet certain criteria before an Amber alert is sent out.
The main criteria being the child must be under 17 and law enforcement must believe the child has been abducted and is in danger of bodily harm or death. And the more information on the child, a possible suspect and even a car they’re in, the better.
“It’s not helpful to anyone to issue an alert if that information is not available,” said O’Leary.
But O’Leary and Bures said that folks just being on the lookout after an Amber Alert could save a life.
“If that was your loved one you’d want everyone out there looking for them,” said O’Leary.
There are two other types of missing person alerts to be aware of. A Clear Alert is for missing people over 17 but under 65 and a Silver Alert notes a missing person over 65.