Friday is National AMBER Alert Day

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Utahns are encouraged to sign up for AMBER Alerts on their cell phones and via Facebook for National AMBER Alert Day.

Utah’s AMBER Alert Plan will be tested on Friday, January 13, National AMBER Alert Day. The tests are held twice each year to make sure the public is notified quickly and effectively when a child has been abducted.

The public is also being encouraged to register to receive free AMBER Alerts on their cell phones at www.wirelessamberalerts.org. Utahns can also be notified on Facebook by clicking “Like” at www.facebook.com/AMBERalertUT.

Utah has issued 33 AMBER Alerts since the plan was started on April 2, 2002.  Most of the children were recovered safely and the alerts were directly responsible for bringing 16 children back home.

An AMBER Alert cannot be issued unless the following criteria are met:

1. Law enforcement believes a child has been abducted.
2. The child is 17 years old or younger.
3. Law enforcement believes the victim is facing imminent danger, serious bodily injury or death.
4. There is information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the victim or apprehension of a suspect.

This will be the 18th test for the state child abduction alert plan. The tests are held each year on January 13, National AMBER Alert Day, and August 26, the date three-year old Rachael Runyan was kidnapped near her Sunset home in 1982.  Utah gives the Rachael Runyan Award to citizens who help save a child by responding to an AMBER Alert.

The exact time of the test is not given, but radio stations are asked to make an announcement when the test is initiated. TV stations are asked to make an announcement of the test and run a crawl at the top of the screen. Media outlets are also encouraged to post the tests on their web sites.

The Utah AMBER Alert Advisory Committee will then review the results and address any needed improvements.

Utah’s AMBER Alert plan has always been a work in progress. The state was the first to create an alert for cases that did not meet the strict AMBER Alert criteria.

Last year the alert’s name was changed to “Endangered Missing Advisory” to keep it consistent with the name being used by other states. More information about Utah’s AMBER Alert Plan can be found at www.amberalert.utah.gov.