The Amber Alert program originated in Arlington, Texas in 1996 as a result of the kidnapping and brutal murder of 9 year old Amber Hagerman. The Amber Alert is a public safety program to help police locate abducted children by broadcasting urgent information including descriptions of victims, suspects, vehicles and circumstances.

The Ontario AMBER Alert Program is a voluntary cooperative plan between the Ontario Association of Broadcasters, law enforcement agencies, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The program is used to alert the public in child abduction cases where police believe the child is in danger of bodily harm or death. Media outlets are provided with critical information concerning a confirmed child abduction which could assist in locating the child. The program is available to all police agencies in Ontario.

When an AMBER Alert is activated, the police now have thousands of eyes watching for the victim, suspect, or suspect’s vehicle. AMBER Alert uses highway changeable message signs, radio, television and cable to immediately broadcast descriptions of kidnap victims, their abductors, and suspect vehicles. Radio and television stations immediately interrupt their programming to disseminate information. This is done as a public service without commercial endorsement.

How Can the Community Assist?

  • When it is determined that an AMBER Alert is required, information about the suspect or missing child will be displayed on electronic highway signs, radio, television and cable TV stations.
  • If you see or hear an AMBER Alert, watch for the child, suspect, and/or vehicle described in the Alert.
  • Immediately report any sightings to the police by calling 9-1-1.
  • Provide information on the location, and a description of the victim, suspect, and/or any vehicle involved.

The Ontario AMBER Alert is an excellent example of law enforcement and the media working together with the community to protect the safety of our children

Guidelines for an Ontario AMBER Alert

Before an alert is initiated, three guidelines must be met:

  • Law enforcement agency believes a child under the age of 18 has been abducted;
  • Law enforcement agency believes the child is in danger;
  • There is descriptive information about one or more of the following:
    • child;
    • abductor;
    • vehicle;
  • Believe an immediate broadcast alert will help in locating the child.

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