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January 13th is Amber Alert Awareness Day

(January 13, 2012)-Today is Amber Alert Awareness Day as designated by the US Department of Justice. Below is an excerpt from a release distributed by the US Department of Justice with the story behind the concept of the Amber Alert System as well as some facts.

Each year the U.S. Department of Justice, AMBER Alert Coordinators at the state, regional, tribal and local levels, state Missing Children Clearinghouses and AMBER Alert partners commemorate the anniversary of the AMBER Alert Program and the abduction of Amber Hagerman.

On January 13, 1996, Amber was abducted while riding her bicycle and then brutally murdered. The AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert network was created after her tragic death to provide emergency broadcast messages to the public when law enforcement determines that a child has been abducted. AMBER Alert broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor, including physical descriptions and information about the abductor's vehicle, which could lead to the child's recovery.

The continued success of the AMBER Alert Program is predicated on a collaborative partnership of law enforcement, broadcasters and media, departments of transportation and citizens. The PROTECT Act, signed into law in April 2003, statutorily established the National AMBER Alert Coordinator role within the Department of Justice. Since that time, AMBER Alert has made remarkable progress:

Ø Today, all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia have established AMBER Alert Plans and over 70 regional, local and tribal plans together create the most significant child recovery network in the history of the U.S.

Ø A secondary distribution effort undertaken in partnership with wireless companies, online service providers, and other private and public entities continues to enable AMBER Alerts to be sent directly to the public.

Ø Tribal nations have implemented their own plans tailored to their specific needs so that children in tribal communities may benefit from AMBER Alert.

Ø All of the states in Mexico have adopted a resolution to implement a common child alert and recovery protocol called Alerta AMBER México. This effort will improve the collaboration between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement in child abduction cases and is expected to increase recoveries of abducted children on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. The federal Mexican government is playing a key leadership role, similar to what the Department of Justice has provided for the United States.

"The Department of Justice leads our federal government's commitment to protecting children and to supporting families at every possible place of vulnerability in our society," said Office of Justice Programs' Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, who serves as the National Amber Alert Coordinator. "Over 550 children have been recovered as a result of the AMBER Alert network. This unprecedented partnership between law enforcement, alert citizens, and the news media continues to be one of the most effective tools employed to protect children."