What is the AMBER Alert System?

photo of Amber Hagerman
A Law Enforcement Agency with an inquiry about an AMBER Alert can contact the NYSP Special Victims Unit through the State Police 24/7 Communications Section at 518-457-6811.

The AMBER Alert System began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. AMBER stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy to 9-year old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered. Other states and communities soon instituted similar plans as the idea was adopted across the nation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice assumed responsibility for co-ordination at the national level.

Modeled after the Texas program, the New York State AMBER Alert Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement, broadcasters and others to immediately involve the public, especially motorists, in the search for an abducted child.

Radio towers with radar circles; America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response

Investigating agencies submit information directly to the New York State Police Communications Section (COMSEC) in Albany. Through the use of a blast fax and email system capable of rapidly disseminating information, details are sent to broadcasters and law enforcement agencies in the area of the abduction. Details may include descriptions of the child, abductor and/or involved automobiles. They can be seen or heard on: television stations, radio stations, highway variable message signs, lottery in-store ticket terminals, NYS Thruway Authority service areas, DMV issuing office message boards, New York State AMBER, New York State Police and DCJS Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse websites.

Experience has shown that excessive or inconsistent use of the AMBER Alert Plan diminishes program integrity and effectiveness. Not only is the relationship between broadcasters and law enforcement harmed, but the public can become apathetic. To maintain program integrity, stringent activation criteria have been established and are strictly followed. Click on the links above to see additional information.

The program is a cooperative effort between the: