AMBER Alert Awareness Day

By: Keith Jones Email
By: Keith Jones Email

Governor Tim Kaine recognized AMBER Alert Awareness Day in Virginia Sunday. America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response Program, AMBER, has helped recover more than 370 abducted children since its creation.

When an abduction occurs, local police team up with broadcasters to send out a warning asking for the public's help. The Virginia State Police say public awareness and participation are keys to the programs success.

"Most crimes are solved by citizens of the community," says Cpl. Don McLain, Staunton Police Department.

He also says Augusta County help has not had to be enlisted through AMBER.

"Not too often, especially with children," says McLain. "Most of the abductions we get, especially here in the city, has been adults."

The same can be said for Rockingham County.

"We are thankful to not have used it since we've had one here in Harrisonburg, and we started in 2002 with our plan, and we have been fortunate enough to not have to use it," says Sgt. Cindy Cull-Wright in Harrisonburg.

She says the missing child has to be in danger to activate the program, and they need as much information as possible and the chances of spotting the missing child are higher.

"Here in a local area, we use our reverse 911, which means everyone in the area will get a phone call from the police department or a recorded phone call with an AMBER Alert on it," says Cull-Wright. "People can actually sign up to get text messages on their phone. They can get e-mails. There's all kinds of ways coming out now."

Police in the Valley hope to never have to send out an AMBER Alert, but they say it's great to know they have a plan just in case.

"With any type of crime, obviously the community is the biggest resource that we have," says McLain. "Crimes don't get solved unless the community calls it in."

The Virginia AMBER Alert program has been activated 23 times since being established in 2002, including three times in 2007. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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