AMBER Alerts
AMBER alert image

Overview

AMBER Alerts are activated in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of a missing child.  These alerts are broadcast through radio, TV, road signs, cellphones, and other data-enabled devices. The AMBER Alert system is being used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 27 other countries.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs has tasked the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children with managing the AMBER Alert Secondary Distribution Program. When law enforcement issues an AMBER Alert, NCMEC is notified and re-distributes the alert to the appropriate secondary distributors.

Successful Recoveries: 934

Updated: October 12, 2018

How do I receive AMBER Alerts?

AMBER Alerts are broadcast through radio, television, road signs, and the network of secondary distributors, which include digital signage, hotel chains, internet service providers, apps, and other technology.  As of 2013, AMBER Alerts are also delivered to wireless phones through the Wireless Emergency Alerts program (WEA).

Most people will see AMBER Alerts directly from primary distribution and secondary distributors and do not require any additional steps. You may also choose to be notified of an AMBER Alert in the following ways:

On Facebook: Visit www.facebook.com/AMBERAlert and “Like” the page to receive AMBER Alerts in your newsfeed. Facebook also automatically notifies users near the location of an AMBER Alert.

On Twitter: Follow @AMBERAlert to receive rapid AMBER Alert notifications on your Twitter feed and share the alert with your followers.

International AMBER Alert Programs

Countries around the world followed the success of AMBER Alerts in the U.S. and created similar alert systems. Each country adapted the system to fit its own needs and requirements but the goal remains the same — use the eyes and ears of the public to help law enforcement recover a child who is in immediate danger.

Below is a list of countries with an alert program in place. This is not an exhaustive list and other countries may have similar programs.
 

Location Area Implemented Name
Australia Queensland Territory and New South Wales 2003 Child Abduction Alert
Belgium National 2011 Child Alert
Canada Each province has a program 2002 and 2003 AMBER Alert
Cyprus National 2015 Child Abduction Alert
Czech Republic National 2009 Dítě v ohrožení
El Salvador National 2013 Alerta Angel Desaparecido
France National 2006 Alert Enlèvement
Greece National 2007 AMBER Alert
Guatemala National 2010 Alba-Kenneth Alert
Ireland National 2012 Irish Child Rescue Alert
Italy National 2011 Italian Child Abduction Alert System
Jamaica National 2009 Ananda Alert
Malaysia National 2007 Nurin Alert
Mexico National 2011 Alerta AMBER Mexico
Netherlands National 2008 AMBER Alert
Poland National 2013 Child Alert
Portugal National 2009 Alerta de rapto de menores
Romania National 2011 Alertă Răpire Copil
South Korea National 2011 AMBER Alert
Spain National 2012 Alerta Menor Desaparecido
Switzerland National 2010 Alert Enlèvement
UK National 2006 Child Rescue Alert

More

These are among the children who have appeared in AMBER Alerts, but remain missing. 
Can you help?

State Contact
Alabama Alabama Bureau of Investigation/Missing Children Clearinghouse 1-800-228-7688
Alaska Lt. Paul Fussey
Fairbanks Dispatch Center
907-451-5100 
Arizona Trooper Chrystal Moore
Arizona Department of Public Safety
602-223-2212
Arkansas Major Mark Hollingsworth
Arkansas State Police
501-618-8000
https://www.ark.org/asp/alerts/mnaa/index.php
California Captain Jay Bart
California Highway Patrol
1-800-TELL-CHP (1-800-835-5247)
Colorado Jillian Ganley
Colorado Bureau of Investigation
303-239-4251 
Connecticut Lt. Michael Pendleton
Connecticut State Police
860-685-8190
http://www.ct.gov/dps
Delaware Sgt. Richard Bratz
Delaware State Police Communications
302-739-5901
District of Columbia Lt. Jimmie Thompson
Metropolitan Police Department
202-727-9099
Florida Seth Montgomery
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Missing Children Information Clearinghouse
1-888-356-4774
Georgia Brad Parks 
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
404-244-2600
Hawaii Missing Child Center-Hawaii
Department of the Attorney General
808-753-9797
hawaiimissingkids@hawaii.gov
Idaho Dawn Peck
Idaho State Police
208-884-7000
Illinois Craig Burge
Illinois State Police
1-800-843-5763
missing@isp.state.il.us
Indiana First Sergeant Shea Reliford
Indiana State Police Clearinghouse
800-831-8953
missingchildren@isp.in.gov
Iowa Sgt. Tom Lampe
Iowa State Patrol Communications
515-323-4360
Kansas William Smith
Kansas Bureau of Investigation
785-296-8262
1-800-KS CRIME
Kentucky Lt Bradley Stotts
Kentucky State Police
502-564-0838
http://kentuckystatepolice.org
Louisiana Sgt. Michelle King
Louisiana State Police, Troop A
318-345-0000
http://www.lsp.org/amber.html
Maine Lt. Mark Holmquist
Maine State Police
207-624-7076
www.maine.gov/portal/CAS
Maryland Sgt. Debbie Flory
Maryland State Police
410-653-4200
Massachusetts Trooper Nicole Morrell
Massachusetts State Police
508-820-2121
Michigan D/Sgt. Sarah Krebs
Michigan State Police
1-800-525-5555
517-241-8000
Minnesota Kris Rush
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
651-793-7000
Mississippi Captain Wayne Wasson
Mississippi Highway Patrol
601-987-1212 or 1530
Missouri Captain Michael Turner
Missouri State Highway Patrol, Troop F
573-751-1000
Montana Jennifer Viets, CJIN Program Manager
Montana Department of Justice
406-444-2800
Nebraska Sgt. Jeromy McCoy
Nebraska State Patrol
308-385-6000
Nevada Nevada Highway Patrol
775-687-0400
New Hampshire Sara Hennessey
New Hampshire State Police
603-271-3636
New Jersey DSFC William Tietjan
New Jersey State Police
609-882-2000
New Mexico Regina Chacon
New Mexico State Police
505-827-9300
New York Senior Investigator John Kean
New York State Police
NYSP Special Victims Unit
(The NYS AMBER Alert Coordinator’s Office)
518-457-6811
NYSPSVU@troopers.ny.gov
North Carolina Nona Best
North Carolina Center for Missing Persons
1-800-522-5437
North Dakota Sgt. Wade Kadrmas
North Dakota State Police
701-328-9921
http://www.nd.gov/amber/
Ohio Captain Kenneth Kocab
Department of Public Safety
Emergency Operations Center
614-466-2660
Oklahoma Gene Thaxton
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Communications Center
405-425-2323
Oregon Bob Rector (Southern Command Center)
Oregon State Police Communications Center
503-375-3555
Pennsylvania Cpl. Shawn Kofluk
Pennsylvania State Police
717-346-5430
http://www.amber.state.pa.us/
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Police Department
787-782-9006
Rhode Island Lt. Ernest McKenney
Rhode Island State Police
401-444-1000
South Carolina Alex Cataldo
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
803-737-9000
South Dakota Bonnie Feller Hagen
Division of Criminal Intelligence Analyst
605-773-7281

Pierre State Radio
605-773-3536
Tennessee James R. Coughlin
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
615-744-4000
Texas Ben Patterson
Texas Department of Public Safety
(512) 424-2208
soc@dps.texas.gov
Utah Gina McNeil
Utah Department of Public Safety
801-652-6287
Vermont Lt. Shawn Loan
Vermont State Police
802-875-2112
http://vsp.vermont.gov/amberalert/
http://vsp.vermont.gov/
Virginia First Sgt. K. Scott Downs
Virginia State Police – Missing Children’s Clearinghouse
804-674 2026
U.S.Virgin Islands U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department 
340-772-9111
Washington Carri Gordon
Washington State Patrol
360-704-2404
West Virginia Sgt. James Kozik
West Virginia State Police
304-746-2158
Wisconsin Michelle DuBois
Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing & Exploited Children
608-266 1671
Wyoming Crystal McGuire
Wyoming Highway Patrol
307-777-4237

What happens when an AMBER Alert is received?

o   AMBER Alert broadcasts have a unique audible signal and vibration. It is intended to indicate the urgency of the message and make the alert accessible to people with hearing or vision-related disabilities. The message will contain a limited number of characters and provide basic information.

o   In the case of an AMBER Alert, the message would indicate that an AMBER Alert has been issued for your area and, relevant information about the missing child, and if possible, the abductor and/or vehicle used in the abduction.

 

How do AMBER Alerts work?

o   Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they will decide whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert based on their AMBER Alert program's criteria. They will provide the geographic area where the alert should be issued as well as any available information about the child, abductor, or suspected vehicle used in the abduction.

o   Once issued, the alerts are distributed by broadcasters and transportation agencies. They are also sent to NCMEC which redistribute the alerts to a network of secondary distributors that includes internet service providers, digital billboards, truckers, and others.

 

How are AMBER Alerts distributed to cell phones?

o   AMBER Alerts are distributed to cell phones as part of the AMBER Alert program's secondary distribution through the Wireless Emergency Alert program (WEA).

 

What is the Wireless Emergency Alert program?

o   The Wireless Emergency Alert program is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It distributes notifications from authorized federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies that alert customers with capable devices of imminent threats to safety or an emergency situation. The messages are intended as a supplement to the existing Emergency Alert System, which broadcasts alerts over radio and television.

o   In addition to AMBER Alerts, the program includes National Weather Service, Presidential, and imminent threat alerts. If you own a capable mobile device, you will automatically receive these alerts when you are in the geographic area where an alert has been issued.

o   Because the alerts are sent on a special wireless carrier channel called Cell Broadcast they are not affected by congestion on the voice or SMS text channels. The alerts are transmitted simultaneously to all mobile devices within range of the cellular carrier towers in the affected area. The system does not need to know your mobile number and it does not track your whereabouts; it simply broadcasts the alert, and any mobile devices that can "hear" the alert will display it to the user.

 

Will wireless customers be charged for Wireless Emergency Alert messages?

o   No. Wireless customers will not be charged for the receipt of these messages.

 

How do I know if my device is Wireless Emergency Alert capable?

o   To determine if your mobile device is capable of receiving the alerts, visit www.ctia.org/wea and look for a link for your wireless service provider where you will find a list of mobile devices that will receive the alerts on their network. Also, be sure to ask for a capable device the next time you acquire a new mobile device.

o   Look for this symbol on the box

 

Is it possible to adjust the volume of the Wireless Emergency Alert audible signal?

o   If a wireless device is set to vibrate only, users will not hear the audible signal from a Wireless Emergency Alert message. For additional information about adjusting the volume of a specific device or opting out of receiving the alerts, wireless customers should contact their individual wireless service providers.

 

Where can I go to receive more information if I receive an AMBER Alert on my cell phone?

o   If you are notified through a Wireless Emergency Alert message that there is an AMBER Alert in your area, you can consult local media or visit www.missingkids.org/AMBER or www.amberalert.gov for more detail about the AMBER Alert.