The State of Missouri AMBER Alert Plan is based upon guidelines established by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the summer of 2001. On August 28, 2003, Section 210.1012 RSMO established a statewide program called the “Amber Alert System.” The intent of the Missouri AMBER Alert is to generate a timely alert to a large number of people and to recruit the eyes and ears of these citizens to facilitate the safe return of abducted children. AMBER Alerts in Missouri are handled under the auspices of the Alert Missouri. The success of the system is dependent on the participation of commercial broadcasters, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and other volunteer alert providers. At the request of the Missouri Broadcaster’s Association, the Missouri Highway Patrol became an EAS originator in order to enhance Missouri’s implementation of the EAS system.
The responsibility for the activation of an AMBER Alert rests solely with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the case. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as a requirement for law enforcement to activate an alert, nor to infringe upon the discretion of a broadcaster concerning the broadcast of an alert.
In order for an AMBER Alert to be forwarded for dissemination via the Alert Missouri program the following criteria must be met:
- Law enforcement officials have a reasonable belief that an abduction has occurred, which meets the definition in RSMo. 565.110 or 565.115
- Law enforcement officials believe there is a credible threat of serious bodily injury or death.
- Enough descriptive information exists about the victim and the abductor for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert.
- The victim of the abduction is a child age 17 years or younger.
- The child’s name and other critical data elements – including the child abduction (CA) flag – have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
- Note: Parental disputes do not apply unless a possibility of harm to the child has been determined. Missouri AMBER Alert activation should not be requested for events not meeting the criteria listed above. Events not meeting these criteria may be addressed through the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System and National Crime Information Center entries, assistance from national (NCMEC) and state (Missouri State Highway Patrol) entities and standard press releases.
A report must be taken and validated by a law enforcement agency. (Section 210.1012 of the RSMO provides that the person who knowingly making a false report which triggers an alert pursuant to that section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.) The AMBER Alert request needs to be timely. Elapsed time from the incident directly diminishes the usefulness of an alert.
Trained local law enforcement personnel in the community where the abduction occurred must first determine if all the activation criteria are met.
If so, the local agency should contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F Headquarters at 573-751-1000 and request an AMBER Alert. Troop F Communications will contact the state AMBER Alert coordinator or their designee and initiate a conference call between the local agency, Troop F Communications, and the coordinator or designee. After a brief discussion regarding the abduction and each criteria section, the coordinator or designee will make the decision whether the situation rises to the level of an AMBER Alert. If the decision is made to activate the AMBER Alert system, Troop F Communications will take the abduction information over the telephone from the local agency and initiate the alert process.
If not already completed, the local agency must initiate a Missing Person computer entry in MULES as required in the National Child Search Act (42 U.S.C. 5779, 5780).
The local agency should also fill out the AMBER Alert request form in MULES 5 (type AMBER in the command line). This form sends a message via MULES to Troop F Communications to notify them of the pending AMBER Alert request. If the agency needs assistance filling out the AMBER form, Troop F Communications can assist the agency.
If the local agency does not have access to the AMBER Alert request form in MULES 5, complete a Missouri AMBER Alert Abduction Form found on the Missouri State Highway Patrol website under “Missing Persons” at the top of the page. This form can be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F Headquarters at 573-751-6814. Contact Troop F Communications at 573-751-1000 to verify the email/fax was received. Once approved, Troop F Communications will disseminate the alert.
If the coordinator or designee doesn’t feel the situation rises to the level of an AMBER Alert, other options can be explored.
During the first two hours after the initial broadcast of an AMBER Alert, stations are urged to give follow-up announcements at least every 15 minutes. Follow-up announcements should not, under normal circumstances, be a retransmission of the initial AMBER EAS message.
During the second two hours stations that are live on-air are urged to broadcast follow-up announcements at least once every half-hour.
After four hours the station may, at its discretion, continue to broadcast follow-up announcements once per hour for twenty hours.