Amber Alert Overview
The Amber Alert Plan is a method of alerting citizens of Pennsylvania when a child has been abducted. The program was developed for Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania State Police and named after 9 year old Amber Hagerman who was abducted while playing near her home in Texas and subsequently murdered in 1996.
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 Commision and the Outdoor Advertising Association of PA.