The number of AMBER Alerts – a public announcement of a child abduction using the media, email and traffic signs – has declined, and officials say that's not a bad thing, reports Stateline.org. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), there were 275 alerts issued nationwide in 2005, falling to 262 in 2006 and 227 in 2007. As of May 31 this year, there had been just 74 alerts.
Bob Hoever, NCMEC's associate director of training, said he is encouraged by the decline; some worry that overuse of alerts could numb the public into ignoring them. Hoever said the program may be a deterrent to some would-be abductors, and the number of abductions could be falling. “More people are surrendering children once they hear there's an alert,” Hoever said. Last year, he said, 16 abductors admitted they surrendered because an AMBER Alert was issued. The system started when broadcasters in Dallas-Fort Worth teamed up with law enforcemers to create an early warning system on abductions after the kidnapping and murder of Amber Hagerman, 9, in 1996.