Utah’s AMBER Alert Plan will be tested on January 13, National AMBER Alert Day, to make sure everything is working the way it should when a child is abducted. During the semi-annual test last August, two computer servers went down and severely delayed the alert. The failure prompted the state to begin using the faster and more reliable “Law Enforcement Alerting Portal” (LEAP) to send alerts to the public.
Sunday’s exercise will be the 20th test for the statewide child abduction alert plan. Utah’s AMBER Alert is also tested each year on August 26, the date three-year old Rachael Runyan was kidnapped near her Sunset home in 1982.
“We absolutely need everyone’s help to make sure the AMBER Alert works when it’s needed,” says Utah Attorney General John Swallow. “I am committed to do my part to make sure we continue to find innovative ways to bring abducted children home.”
The exact time of the test is not given but radio stations should make an announcement when the test is initiated. TV stations are asked to announce and/or run a crawl about the test at the top of the screen. All media outlets are encouraged to post the tests on their web sites.
Another significant development this year is that the public will no longer have to opt-in to receive AMBER Alerts on their cell phones. Beginning December 31, 2012, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children began sending alerts to all cell phones in the area where an AMBER Alert has been initiated. The new plan replaces the Wireless AMBER Alert Program that began in May 2005 and signed up more than 700,000 people to receive the alerts.
Swallow is also urging Utahns to sign up on LEAP to receive AMBER Alerts by e-mail, text, fax and RSS feeds at this site: http://bit.ly/5hl43n. They can also be notified about alerts on Facebook by clicking “Like” atwww.facebook.com/AMBERalertUT.
Utah has issued 34 AMBER Alerts since the plan was started on April 2, 2002. Most children were recovered safely and the alerts were directly responsible for bringing 17 children back home. More information about Utah’s AMBER Alert Plan can be found at www.amberalert.utah.gov.
Utah Attorney General’s Office: