Amber Alert vs. Missing/Endangered Person Alert


Sad that two of the three major media outlets (KFBB and GF Tribune) labeled this as an AMBER Alert. In fact, it’s a Missing/Endangered Person Alert. There is a difference. Not every child who is reported missing is the subject of an AMBER Alert (see below).

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The difference:

AMBER Alert Criteria

There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that a child has been abducted or has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
The missing child is age 17 years or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
The law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.

In Montana, there is a supplemental program for use when cases don’t meet the AMBER Alert criteria. It’s called a Missing and Endangered Persons Advisory, and doesn’t have quite the same immediacy

Missing and Endangered Persons Advisory – MEPA Criteria

Do the circumstances fail to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert? (If they do meet the criteria, immediately follow the AMBER Alert protocol.)
Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances?
Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, or environmental or weather conditions; to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or is there some other factor that may put the person in peril?
Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the missing person?

The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.

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