This week marks the one-year anniversary of a multi-state AMBER Alert involving a kidnapped California teenager. Sixteen-year-old Hannah Anderson was ultimately rescued in the Idaho backcountry. Her captor was shot to death by a federal agent. This is just one of the nearly 700 cases where the AMBER Alert program has been credited with the safe return of a child. But the emergency system has its limitations.
A group of Idaho backcountry horsemen were the ones who came across Hannah Anderson and her abductor James Lee DiMaggio last August. This from NBC News.
NBC News: “Kind of a gut feeling like they didn’t belong.”
When the four horsemen got home they saw the news of the kidnapping and called police. Another success for the Amber Alert system. Robert Hoever is with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Robert Hoever: “The whole purpose of Amber Alert is to rapidly notify the public as soon as possible.”
But Hoever provides statistics that show the multi-state alert system only has about a one-in-five success rate. Timothy Griffin is a criminal justice professor at the University of Nevada Reno. He’s studied Amber Alert cases and says:
Timothy Griffin: “The best bet for any abducted child is not an AMBER Alert, the best bet is the cops.”
In fact, most AMBER Alert cases are solved by the police or later determined to be unfounded. A smaller number of children are found deceased or are still missing.
AMBER Alerts are now broadcast on wireless devices. There’s also a lower-grade alert called an Endangered Missing Person Advisory.
Copyright 2014 Northwest Public Radio