How it Works

Amber Alert

For an AMBER Alert to be activated in New York State, a local law enforcement agency contacts the New York State Police Special Victims Unit to provide details on their case.

The NYSP SVU will review the case to make sure it meets the activation criteria.

When an AMBER Alert is activated, the Special Victims Unit takes the following action:

  • Notify all broadcasters in the activation area(s) by fax and/or e-mail
  • Notify State partners to help disseminate the information.
    • New York State transportation authorities display details on highway message signs.
    • The New York State Lottery adds details on in-store ticket terminals.
    • The New York State Thruway Authority displays details at toll barriers and service areas.
    • The Department of Motor Vehicles displays details on office message boards.
  • Notify the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Missing Persons Clearinghouse, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC),  FBI offices in New York State and the New York State Intelligence Center.
  • Request interstate activation in neighboring states and/or Canadian Provinces if warranted. If an activation area is adjacent to a border, the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Canadian Customs are also notified.
  • Add alert details on the AMBER Alert website and partner websites.
  • Create and distribute posters to all agencies in the activation area if photographs and/or digital images are available.
  • Send updated messages to activation area or expand activation area if needed.
  • Send cancellation message if the child is recovered.



AMBER Alert capabilities are operational statewide, as defined by the map below, and a procedure is in place to share information with neighboring states and Canadian provinces and, when appropriate, request activation of their AMBER Alert systems.


Amber Alert Activation Regions map


When it is believed that an abductor may try to flee the US across one of the New York State border crossings, border crossing personnel will be notified:

  • US Border Patrol
  • US Customs
  • Canadian Customs


Other Activations

When a missing child or college student is deemed to be endangered, but the case does not meet AMBER Alert activation criteria, an alternative alert system is available.

Known as a Missing Child/Missing College Student Alert, information can be distributed electronically to every police agency in New York State, NYS Thruway travel plazas and toll barriers, broadcasters, Alert subscribers and others within minutes. Information is also placed on the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service website. Unlike an AMBER Alert, station managers decide if and when to broadcast information.