Gov. Ivey requests immediate change in Amber Alert criteria - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Gov. Ivey requests immediate change in Amber Alert criteria

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(WAFF) -

On Wednesday, a vehicle was stolen from a Bessemer convenience store with a 19-month-old still in the back seat. One hour, 40 minutes after the theft, Bessemer police requested the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to issue an Amber Alert for the child.

Their request was denied.

Based on criteria in place at that time, the incident did not meet the previously adopted requirements for an AMBER Alert to be issued. The child was ultimately found safe and a suspect was taken into custody, but ALEA faced immediate criticism for how they handled the incident.   

After reviewing the situation, Governor Kay Ivey asked ALEA Acting Secretary Hal Taylor to review the state’s current guidelines. On Friday Taylor announced that the finding of an “abduction” will no longer be required for an AMBER Alert to be issued.

The change puts Alabama’s policy in line with the U.S. Department of Justice’s recommended criteria for issuing the alerts. This policy change will result in more AMBER Alerts being issued in the state, ensuring that the public is informed of a child’s disappearance early on when time is absolutely critical.

“We need to protect the children of our state. Though we pray that an AMBER Alert is never needed, I asked Secretary Taylor to broaden the scope of our AMBER Alert requirements to safeguard as many children as possible,” Gov. Ivey said.

“It is the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s goal to rescue abducted and missing children. By expanding our criteria for issuing an AMBER alert, we will further that goal, and hopefully, make sure that as many vulnerable children as possible are protected from those whom would do them harm,” ALEA Sec. Taylor added.

“Due to ongoing investigations, we may not always release why an alert may or may not be issued, but we will ensure that all cases are evaluated against this new standard.”

Whenever a local law enforcement agency believes and Amber Alert may be needed, it should immediately contact the 24-hour Alabama Missing Person’s Hotline at (800) 228-7688. The public may sign up for Amber Alerts on the ALEA website.

Click here for the new guidelines, which go into effect immediately.

One requirement for an Amber Alert is that the child has to be under the age of 18 among several other things.

"The child is actually in danger and also we have a description we can give out," said Trooper Curtis Summerville. "If we don't have that we don't have an amber alert."

Before Friday, the child had to be abducted for an alert to be sent out. That's no longer a requirement after Ivey's requested change, which went into effect immediately.

It's important to mention that Amber Alerts are not issued for children who run away from home.

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