News


FDLE and Partners Commemorate National AMBER Alert Awareness Day

1/11/2008
 
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey joined Florida’s local, state, federal, and private partners today to commemorate National AMBER Alert Awareness Day. Each year, on January 13, the U.S. Department of Justice remembers the abduction and brutal murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman that occurred 12 years ago in Texas, and for whom the AMBER plan was named after. During today’s commemoration, the U.S. Department of Justice formally recognized the North Florida Child Abduction Response Team (CART) as the first team in the country to earn national certification.

“In a child abduction, time is a key factor,” said Commissioner Bailey. “The AMBER program and Florida’s CART teams focus on responding fast, responding efficiently, and drawing in the right resources. This program is our best chance for a positive resolution - that’s already been proven.”

To earn certification, CART teams must meet rigorous performance standards in such areas as rapid activation and response, Incident Command Structure, command post operations and leads tracking. The certification comes following the North Florida team’s full-scale exercise in October that was observed by assessors from Fox Valley Technical College. Fox Valley is contracted by the Justice Department to train and assess CART teams throughout the United States.

Administrator Robert Flores with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention said, “I applaud the efforts of so many communities, and particularly the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for playing a leadership role in creating a safer environment for children and developing appropriate responses to abducted children.”


Florida first created Child Abduction Response Teams in 2005 and now has 13 teams in place across the state. CART is a multi-agency team designed to immediately mobilize assistance and investigative resources to the lead investigative agency when a child goes missing under suspicious circumstances. In 2005, Florida’s CART teams received the prestigious ChoicePoint Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

In conjunction with National AMBER Awareness Day, advertisers with the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association have donated space this weekend on 43 digital billboard displays located throughout the state. In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol will be promoting the awareness day on their road signs and the Florida Lottery will display messages on their 13,000 lottery machines.

Each year, approximately 49,000 children are reported missing in Florida, with the majority of those being runaways. In 2007, the FDLE Missing Children Information Clearinghouse issued 11 AMBER Alerts. Since the program’s inception in 2000, 42 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 23,000 citizens have signed up at www.missingchildrenalert.com to receive AMBER Alerts via e-mail and cell phone text messages. There is no charge to receive alerts.

To learn more about Florida’s AMBER Plan or to sign up to receive alerts, visit www.missingchildrenalert.com or www.fdle.state.fl.us.

Since the Department of Justice launched the AMBER Alert program, more than 375 children have been saved as a result of AMBER Alerts. Within 14 months of the launch of the DOJ AMBER Alert Program, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and territories had established AMBER Alert Plans. Mirroring Florida’s Child Abduction Response Teams, DOJ launched a CART initiative two years ago and have trained more than 100 teams.

For more information, contact:

Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Public Information Office
(850) 410-7001