Here's the bad news about child abduction homicides: 3 out of 4 kids are dead within 3 hours. The good news is that Utah's AMBER Alert gives kids a fighting chance.
On Jan. 13, National AMBER Alert Day, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and UDOT Executive Director John Njord launched an aggressive public information campaign to get that message out to law enforcement officers, reporters and the public.
"We can never become complacent when it comes to abducted children. Every Utahn needs to get involved quickly when an AMBER Alert goes out and give kids a fighting chance," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Every Utah law enforcement agency and media outlet will soon receive break room posters that display the deadly child abduction homicide statistics and offer detailed instructions on what law enforcement and the media should do during an AMBER Alert. The message will also be reinforced by a statewide radio campaign produced by UDOT and the Utah Broadcasters Association.
"UDOT has been a pioneer by posting AMBER Alerts on highway signs, highway advisory radio transmitters and the 511 travel information line. This radio campaign will help remind everyone what's at stake when a child is taken," said Executive Director John Njord.
Law enforcement agencies and media outlets will also receive AMBER Alert training DVDs and break room posters explaining what to do when an Endangered Person Advisory is initiated. The Endangered Person Advisory is a new alert for missing people who do not meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert. It should be noted that these statistics are strictly for child abduction homicides and not all child kidnappings end in death.
Rick and Rachael Norton, Elaine Runyan-Simmons, Ed Smart, Katie Whitney all have gone through the ordeal of having their child taken and they are all lending their voices to support Utah's AMBER Alert Plan and the public education campaign. The Jan. 15 press conference also included the following announcements:
The Attorney General's Office has established a statewide Child Abduction Response Team (CART). The office will also coordinate and encourage local law enforcement agencies to set up regional CART teams. These specialized teams follow a nationally developed model and can assist other agencies when a child is missing or abducted. The CART training is being offered in numerous cities but will also be held in Salt Lake City on June 4-8. Law enforcement agencies can sign up for the classes at www.amber-net.org.
Utah Rep. Paul Nuenschwander and Sen. Jon Greiner are sponsoring legislation that will make it easier for businesses and individuals to make charitable contributions to Utah's AMBER Alert Plan and other anti-crime initiatives.
The Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) is sending applications to all Utah elementary schools so 5th graders can participate in the National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest. The winner will be honored in Washington, D.C. Contest details can be found at http://dept.fvtc.edu/ojjdp/postercontest.html.
The eighth test of Utah's AMBER Plan took place on Jan. 15. The tests will be conducted each year on January 15, National AMBER Alert Day and August 26, the anniversary of the day three-year-old Rachael Runyan was kidnapped near her home in Sunset in 1982. This was also the first test of the Emergency Alert System that is being initiated by BCI instead of KSL-Radio, the primary EAS provider for Utah.