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Explaining how an AMBER Alert works in Colorado

Since AMBER Alerts are issued straight to your phone, here are the factors considered when authorities make their decision.

COLORADO, USA — When a child goes missing, authorities must figure out what type of alert should be issued during the search.

Here's an explainer on what exactly an AMBER Alert is and what must be considered to issue this type of alert.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is in charge of issuing AMBER Alerts for the state in consultation with the law enforcement agency that's requesting one.

What is an AMBER Alert?

AMBER stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The alert was created after the January 1996 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. Following the incident, the idea of repeating news bulletins about abducted children was proposed by a concerned citizen to a Dallas radio station.

The concept was introduced as alerts that are similar to severe weather warnings. The Dallas AMBER Plan was implemented in July 1997 with the goal of helping save children's lives. 

RELATED: Even CBI's director is concerned about late night AMBER Alerts

What criteria must be met to push an AMBER Alert out? 

For an AMBER Alert to be issued, the following guidelines are supposed to be met:

  • The abducted child must be 17 years old or younger.
  • The abducted child must be in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death.
  • There must be enough descriptive information available to believe a broadcast will assist or aid in the recovery.
  • A local law enforcement agency or AMBER designee from another state must request the activation.

RELATED: Why didn’t all Coloradans get the recent Amber Alert?

What is an endangered missing child alert?

According to the AMBER Alert website, these alerts are only issued for abducted children with the most serious cases that meet the criteria. The organization avoids the overuse of the alerts to prevent the public from becoming desensitized when they are issued. 

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