OJP Press Release letterhead

September 8, 2004
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Catherine Sanders
Phone: (202) 307-0703
TTY: (202) 514-1888


Announcements Made at National AMBER Alert Training Conference in Ohio

     COLUMBUS, OH - National AMBER Alert Coordinator and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Deborah J. Daniels today unveiled three new AMBER Alert public service announcements featuring John Walsh of America's Most Wanted and Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, and also announced an easily accessible website providing tools for parents and law enforcement regarding AMBER Alert: www.amberalert.gov. Assistant Attorney General Daniels made the announcements at a national training conference on AMBER Alert, called "Bringing Our Children Home," where she was joined by Ohio Governor Bob Taft and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

     The conference was hosted by the Justice Department and brought together teams composed of law enforcement, broadcasters and transportation officials from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Department convened the conference as part of its national AMBER Alert strategy implemented after President Bush called for all states to have statewide AMBER Alert plans as part of a national AMBER network. At the time of the President's call during the first-ever White House Conference on Missing and Exploited Children in October 2002 conference, only twenty-one states had statewide AMBER Alert plans. Today, 49 states have statewide AMBER Alert plans in place.

     "The stunning success of AMBER Alert is the direct result of the unprecedented cooperation of alert citizens and the media with local law enforcement," said Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels. "Over 150 abducted children have been recovered through the AMBER Alert program since it began, and four-fifths of those recoveries have occurred in the last two years alone. This demonstrates the effectiveness of local AMBER Alerts and also the importance of a national network that can help bring abducted children home."

     The three new AMBER Alert public service announcements unveiled by Assistant Attorney General Daniels are available from the National Association of Broadcasters (www.nab.org) for airing on television and radio stations across the nation.

     The new AMBER Alert website features progress reports on the implementation of the national AMBER Alert strategy, the latest information and publications regarding keeping children safe and preventing abductions, a list of state AMBER Alert coordinators and local contacts, and training opportunities, in addition to resources for making AMBER programs work effectively.

     AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor that could lead to the child's recovery, such as a physical description and information about the abductor's vehicle. The AMBER Alert program began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. The plan was created as a legacy to nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was murdered after being kidnapped while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas.

     Following the 2002 White House Conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft named Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels as the National AMBER Alert Coordinator. The PROTECT Act, which President Bush signed into law in April 2003, statutorily established the National AMBER Alert Coordinator role.

     In 2003, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) convened the first-ever National AMBER Alert Training Conference and the National AMBER Alert Technology Conference. Teams of broadcasters, law enforcement and transportation officials from all 50 states gathered for the first time to exchange ideas and to receive training on organizing and executing successful AMBER Alerts.

     OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. It is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education, and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program and the American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk.