The AMBER Alert™ Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child. And, of course, the safe return of a missing child is the highest priority of law enforcement.
On average, 797,500 children are reported missing in the U.S. each year — but less than 2 percent are considered “stereotypical” abductions, according to a 2002 U.S. Justice Department study. Stereotypical abductions are classified as abductions during which the child does not know or is of “slight acquaintance” with the abductor.
Make sure your child knows when it is appropriate to talk to strangers. Children often get confused on this point because, even though they are told not to speak with people they do not know, parents often encourage very young children to engage in conversation in order to teach socially-appropriate greetings and politeness. To avoid this confusion, explain to the child that it is OK to respond to simple greetings such as a “Hello” and “How are you?” But explain to the stranger that the child has been told not to say more if he doesn’t know the person to whom he is speaking. This way, your child will have a clear definition of when to speak, and the stranger will not be offended for lack of further responses.
Since January 2010, my office has been committed to the development of a Child Abduction Response Team (CART). CART is a multi-agency team that consists of members from the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigations, Department of Human Services, and Douglas County Schools to name a few. CART committee members have identified resources needed, written policies, conducted several table top scenarios, and trained Sheriff’s Office personnel on the initial response and investigation of a child abduction. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office CART recently conducted a small scale field exercise. After the successful completion of this exercise, Douglas County began the process to become a nationally certified team through Amber Alert and Fox Valley Technical College and becoming the first CART certified agency in Colorado.
On February 1, 2012, the Douglas County Sheriffs Office conducted a Mock Child Abduction Field Exercise. This was a tremendous training opportunity for our deputies and much was learned as a result of this innovative exercise.