The New York State AMBER Alert Plan can be activated when an investigating law enforcement agency has reasonable cause to believe that:

  1. An abduction of a child (under the age of 18) has occurred, and
  2. The child is believed to be in danger of serious bodily harm or death, either due to the actions of another or due to a proven mental or physical condition.

Even if formal activation criteria have been met, activation may be impractical if available information is not specific enough and/or an extended period of time passed since the disappearance.

For example, an AMBER Alert specifying involvement of a white van (without a license plate number) could actually hinder an investigation by causing the public to inundate police agencies with possible sightings.


  1. "Reasonable Cause to Believe" means that from eyewitness accounts, OR by eliminating other possibilities, your investigation leads you to believe that a child has been abducted.
  2. Familial abductions qualify only if a child is endangered by the actions of the abducting family member.
  3. Whenever an AMBER Alert request does not meet activation criteria, requesting agencies are referred to other NYSP investigative resources and to the NYS DCJS Missing Persons Clearinghouse (MPC) for possible issuance of a Missing Child/College Student Alert.