An AMBER Alert or a Child Abduction Emergency (SAME code: CAE) is a child abduction alert system. It originated in the United States in 1996. AMBER is officially a backronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, but was named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996. Alternate regional alert names were once used; in Georgia, “Levi’s Call” (named after Levi Frady); in Hawaii, “Maile Amber Alert” (after Maile Gilbert); and Arkansas, “Morgan Nick Amber Alert” (in memory of Morgan Chauntel Nick).
In the United States, AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, Internet radio, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio (where they are termed “Child Abduction Emergency” or “Amber Alerts”). The alerts are also issued via e-mail, electronic traffic-condition signs, commercial electronic billboards, or through wireless device SMS text messages. AMBER Alert has also teamed up with Google, Bing, and Facebook to relay information regarding an AMBER Alert to an ever growing demographic: AMBER Alerts are automatically displayed if citizens search or use map features on Google or Bing. With the Google Child Alert (also called Google AMBER Alert in some countries), citizens see an AMBER Alert if they search for related information in a particular location where a child has recently been abducted and an alert was issued. This is a component of the AMBER Alert system that is already active in the US (there are also developments in Europe). Those interested in subscribing to receive AMBER Alerts in their area via SMS messages can visit Wireless Amber Alerts, which are offered by law as free messages. In some states, the display scrollboards in front of lottery terminals are also used.
The decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by each police organization (in many cases, the state police or highway patrol) that investigates each of the abductions. Public information in an AMBER Alert usually consists of the name and description of the abductee, a description of the suspected abductor, and a description and license plate number of the abductor’s vehicle, if available.