Girl’s murder 25 years ago led to establishment of AMBER Alert system

iPhone carrier AMBER Alert. 22 October 2015. (Photo by Tony Webster from Flickr)

The AMBER Alert system was established in response to the abduction and murder of a nine-year-old Texas girl, 25 years ago Wednesday.

Amber Hagerman was killed in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996.

Since then, many abducted children around the world have been safely returned to their parents.

OPP Interim Commander of Community Safety Services Stacey Whaley said there were four AMBER Alerts issued across Ontario in 2020.

“All four of the alerts were effective,” said Whaley. “None of them belonged to the OPP, so we just facilitated the program on behalf of the investigating agencies. Lots of times we don’t get the information as to what happened, we just implement the program and when we’re told to cancel, then we do.”

Whaley said people shouldn’t get angry and take it out on police if an alert is issued overnight.

“I understand people’s frustration, but we always ask people to put themselves in the shoes of a parent,” he said. “If their child was missing, they would want everybody to be doing what they can (to find them). This is very much a community program, and abducted children is very much a community problem and not just a police problem. So, we want everybody to contribute.”

AMBER Alerts are sent to mobile phones, and radio and television stations are required to broadcast them.

The program is being used in Canada, the U.S., and many other countries around the world.