Police field complaints again about Amber AlertJuly 11, 2019 10:53am
The Ontario Provincial Police want to remind the public again that 911 is not an appropriate venue to complain about Amber Alerts.
Residents across Southern Ontario woke suddenly around 3 a.m. Thursday, when York Regional Police requested an Amber Alert to report two young boys last seen in Newmarket with their grandfather, were missing.
Police credited the Amber Alert for helping find the boys, two-year-old Harrison Larocque and his four-year-old brother, Keegan Larocque, safe in Toronto. However, some called 911 or complained on social media that they were, yet again, disturbed from their slumber.
What I cannot understand is why this has to be sent at 3:00AM, waking up a lot of people? If the children were found in a mall, it must have been before closing time on Wednesday! So, what use is an alert system if it takes five or six hours to reach the phones?
— Sunil Sivanand (@sunilsivanand) July 11, 2019
Was it someone that was sleeping who provided the tip?
— Andrew Mantha (@Xelopheris) July 11, 2019
Happy everybody was ok. But in this case it was a misuse of the AMBER alert system in which the criteria, in part, includes children under 18 who are abducted AND in immediate danger for risk of death/injury. Opens up a debate whether people should be able to opt out.
— Mike L (@Mikeinthe6) July 11, 2019
The response on social media came fast and held no punches.
Did the amber alert wake up my child that has been cranky and refusing sleep all night? Yes. Am I going to complain about it? Absolutely not. I have my baby in my arms right now. I have no right to complain when someone is praying their kids come home safe. #AmberAlert
— Alycia Haveliwalla (@AlyHaveliwalla) July 11, 2019
Automatically lose respect for you if you complain about the #AmberAlert on social media.
— William R. Thompson (@wil_thomp) July 11, 2019
If you call 911 to complain about an #AmberAlert because you were inconvenienced by the sound coming from your phone you lack the intelligence to place it on vibrate and you are a terrible person. This is about missing kids not you.
— Blain Potvin (@Potsy_70) July 11, 2019
The OPP said the decision to issue the alert was based on established criteria and was not taken lightly. So far this year, five Amber Alerts have been issued. Four resulted in the safe return of children. The fifth ended tragically on February 14 when police found the body of 11-year-old Ria Rajkumar and arrested her father.
It was after that incident that police spoke out about complaints from the public.
Thursday, police were unrepentant for issuing the Amber Alert.
“The OPP recognizes the inconvenience the alert may have caused, but will not apologize for using all of the tools available to help locate a child,” read a statement. “The only option to not receive these alerts to a mobile device is to have your device turned off. However, if your device is turned off, you will be unable to receive any emergency alert that may contain information of imminent danger in your area.”