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What should you do if your child goes missing?

In light of National Amber Alert Awareness Day, local law enforcement wants to encourage parents to make sure they understand what constitutes an Amber Alert.
Credit: KYTX

LONGVIEW, Texas — Most are familiar with the Amber Alert tone. The alarming emergency message warns you when a child has been abducted. The alert gives the victims description, where they could be located, and who they may be with.

The Amber Alert was created in 1996 when 9-year-old Amber Hangerman was abducted riding her bicycle in front of her families home in Arlington. She was found dead, two days later.

In honor of the day, many are encouraged to know how to keep their child safe. 

"Amber alerts, get that information out there that people need," Kristie Brian of the Longview Police Department said. "That tone goes off on your phone, then I mean, everybody automatically looks at it to see, you know, what is this?" 

East Texas doesn't hear many Amber Alerts. The last one came from Henderson in May 2019.

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According to The Department of Justice, as of September 2019, 58 children were found because of Wireless Emergency alerts. As of September 2019, 967 children were rescued because of Amber Alerts.  

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"There's a lot of specific things that you have. Criteria [has]  to be met," Brian said. "But if those criteria are met, that Amber Alert goes out, you know, very quickly."  

Credit: KYTX

According to Amber Alert Advocate, The criteria is:

  • Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place. 
  • The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. 
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child. 
  • The child must be 17 years old or younger. 
  • The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.

"If your child is missing, definitely call us because the faster we can get on the call, the more chances of finding that child," Brian explained.

There are also Child ID Kits offered. 

These are provided by the Longview, Kilgore and Tyler Police Departments for free. Officers will take a photo/video, voice scan and fingerprints of the child and keep them on file in case something happens. 

"It really makes people pay attention," Brian said.

To make sure you have Amber Alerts on your phone: 

  1. Go to your phone's settings
  2. Find Notifications settings
  3. Select Emergency Alerts
  4. Make sure Alerts are on