Amber Alert Case Raises Parental Abduction Issue

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A frantic mother called Rushville, Ind., police Sunday saying her children had been abducted by their father, says the Louisville Courier-Journal. Police Chief Tony Fudge never had issued an Amber Alert before, knew it was unusual to do so in cases of an alleged parental abduction, and knew the situation needed to meet certain criteria – that police believe a child under 18 has been abducted and is in danger. In this case, the mother alleged that the father had taken the children, both in their early teens, across the state line without her approval, and that he had been violent in the past. Fudge issued the alert at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, and by 4:30 p.m. the children were safe in sheriff’s office. The father was not charged.

Amber Alert advocates praised Fudge for making the right call – while acknowledging the case illustrates the difficulties officials face in deciding whether to issue a alert in cases involving custodial disputes. The concern has been that authorities would use it too often and water down its effect. Advocate Jenni Thompson said it’s better to “err on the side of caution.” Thompson, of the Polly Klaas Foundation of California, said police are discouraged from sending alerts for routine cases of alleged parental kidnapping because of fears they could jam the system. Every day 559 children nationwide are abducted by a parent. In a year, that would mean more than 200,000 alerts dedicated to parental abductions.

Link: http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2004/07/27ky/A1-amber0727-7993.html

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