Governor Crist Joins Local, State and Private Partners to Recognize

ST. PETERSBURG – Governor Charlie Crist joined with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey and Florida’s local, state and private partners today to commemorate National AMBER Alert Awareness Day at the Governor’s new St. Petersburg Office at the University of South Florida. The event was held to increase public awareness about AMBER Alerts and improve the recovery potential of endangered or abducted children.

Governor Crist recognized a North Carolina family for their role in the successful recovery of two children who went missing from Kissimmee on Dec. 29, 2006. On their way home to North Carolina after vacationing in the Orlando area, the McArdle family spotted a vehicle in South Carolina that matched the description they had seen earlier that day featured on an activated Florida Department of Transportation AMBER Alert road sign. The family quickly notified authorities and as a result, both children were safely recovered.

“The people of Florida play an important role in locating missing children in a timely manner so that they can be reunited with their families,” said Governor Crist. “I am proud to live in a state where the citizens take care of each other and make the safety of children a high priority.”

Each year, approximately 49,000 children are reported missing in Florida, with the majority of those being runaways. In 2006, the FDLE Missing Children Information Clearinghouse issued 16 AMBER Alerts. Since the program’s inception in 2003, the AMBER Alert has been issued 114 times, and 32 children have been located as a direct result.

When a child goes missing, the public plays a vital role in helping law enforcement to safely recover that child. FDLE, in conjunction with the Division of Emergency Management and the Florida Association of Broadcasters, Inc., established the Florida AMBER Plan in 2000. Florida was the second state in the nation to take the partnership for AMBER Alerts statewide. Since that time, the AMBER Plan has expanded to include billboards, dynamic road signs and lottery machines. More than 21,000 citizens have signed up at to receive AMBER Alerts via e-mail and cell phone text messages. There is no charge to receive alerts.

“AMBER Alerts are so valuable because very frequently it is information provided by the community that brings a missing child safely home,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “We encourage citizens to sign up to get AMBER Alerts sent directly to their cell phones and e-mail in-boxes so they can assist us in the search for abducted children.”

To help recognize National AMBER Awareness Day, Lamar Advertising and Clear Channel Advertising have donated space this weekend on digital billboard displays located in Tallahassee and St. Petersburg promoting National AMBER Awareness Day.

To learn more about Florida’s AMBER Plan or to sign up to receive alerts, visit or