Worried that unnecessary Amber Alerts might hamper the program’s effectiveness, Arizona Department of Public Safety officers will question their peers more extensively before sounding statewide alarms, says the Arizona Republic. No one disputes the program’s effectiveness, with all 43 of the abducted children who were the focus of alerts recovered alive since the program started four years ago. Most abductions involved suspects known to their victims, not strangers like the one who kidnapped and killer Amber Hagerman, 9, in Texas in 1996.
Arizona has issued far more than the average number of alerts in other states, including two in the past six days and five in the past month. There have been 11 Arizona cases this year alone, compared with 42 nationally. Phoenix police Sgt. Mary Roberts, an Amber Alert board member, said as many as 25 percent of the alarms never should have been issued because the missing children could have been recovered through police investigation. In an Amber Alert, bulletins are broadcast on radio and TV and flashed on overhead freeway signs to get public help. “Some of these custodial issues, I question,” said Roberts. “If we overuse it (the alerts), we will lose it.”