Amber Alert passed

Published 1:12 am Friday, April 11, 2003

By Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) applauded Thursday's passage of much needed legislation establishing a coordinated, national AMBER Alert system.
The case of Lindsey Ryan highlights the importance and need for a nationwide AMBER Alert. An observant Frito Lay truck driver noticed the vehicle that Lindsey Ryan was last seen in from details given by California's AMBER Alert.
After 24 days with a convicted murderer, Lindsey Ryan was finally found safe and alive. But delays in implementing the AMBER Alert in states surrounding Michigan cause law enforcement officials to lose valuable time and Lindsey was halfway across the country when the AMBER Alert outside Michigan was finally issued. With this new law, delays in dispatching a coordinated AMBER Alert will be preventable.
Upon hearing the news of Lindsey Ryan's disappearance, Upton called Cass County Sheriff Joe Underwood to offer his assistance in whatever capacity was needed. Underwood conveyed to Upton his frustration with the delay in activating the AMBER Alert system and that precious hours were lost when they first learned of Lindsey's disappearance.
The Chief Abduction Prevention Act established the operation of a national AMBER Alert communications network to facilitate the recovery of abducted children. The Department of Justice will designate an AMBER Alert Coordinator to oversee the national communications network.
Working closely with the FBI, Department of Transportation and the Federal Communications Commission, the coordinator will eliminate the gaps in the network and will work with states to develop local alerts. The bill authorizes funding for the alert system and also creates minimum standards that would be implemented by the coordinator, helping to minimize false alarms and overuse of the network.
Once they receive the AMBER Alert, radio and television stations interrupt regularly scheduled programming to notify the public that a child has been kidnapped. because 95 percent of all people driving in their cars listen to the radio, this is an extremely effective way of providing descriptions of the child, the kidnapper, vehicles or accomplices.
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,