|What is the AMBER Plan?
AMBER Plan is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies and
broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction
Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS), formerly called the Emergency
Broadcast System, to air a description of the abducted child and suspected
This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies. The goal
of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist
in the search for and safe return of the child.
the AMBER Plan Created?
The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber
Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while
riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas.
The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted
radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special “alerts”
over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the
future. Letter to Dallas area radio station (Adobe PDF)
In response to the community’s concern for the safety of local children,
the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local
law-enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative
early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that,
when abducted, a child’s greatest enemy is time.
Does the AMBER Plan Work?
Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must
first determine if the case meets the AMBER Plan’s criteria for triggering
Each program establishes its own AMBER Plan criteria; however, the National
Center for Missing & Exploited Children suggests three criteria that
should be met before an Alert is activated.
If these criteria are met, alert information must be put together for public
distribution. This information can include descriptions and pictures of
the missing child, the suspected abductor, a suspected vehicle, and any
other information available and valuable to identifying the child and suspect.
- law enforcement confirms a child has been abducted
- law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction
indicate that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death
- there is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor,
and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert
The information is then faxed to radio stations designated as primary stations
under the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
The primary stations send the same information to area radio and television
stations and cable systems via the EAS, and it is immediately broadcast
by participating stations to millions of listeners.
Radio stations interrupt programming to announce the Alert, and television
stations and cable systems run a “crawl” on the screen along
with a picture of the child.
Some states are also incorporating electronic highway billboards in their
Plans. The billboards, typically used to disseminate traffic information
to drivers, now alert the public of abducted children, displaying pertinent
information about the child, abductor or suspected vehicle that drivers
might look for on highways.