What it takes to issue an AMBER Alert

Digging deeper into Amber Alerts

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Amber Alerts are a way to instantly galvanize the community, or even the nation, to get a child back safely. There are strict standards for Amber Alerts, so that the public always understands when an alert goes out, it's time to act.

The Department of Justice issues these standards, and it's up to states to adopt them voluntarily. One standard is that law enforcement must believe a child is in real danger, including death.

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There were 230 Amber Alerts issued nationwide in 2016. The DOJ said the powerful program has brought 95 percent of children back home safely. To date, more than 800 children have been returned home because of an Amber Alert.

North Carolina girl Arieyana Forney, 11, who police said was kidnapped by her uncle after committing a double murder, was the latest child to be helped by an Amber Alert.

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The program is in its 21st year, and is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement, broadcasters, transportation departments and cell phone providers to put out an urgent message in only the most serious child abduction cases.

The child must be 17 years old or younger and there needs to be enough descriptive information on the victim and the abduction for an alert to be sent out.

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In D.C., Amber Alerts are not sent out often. According to police, the last time was in 2014 for Relisha Rudd, who remains missing.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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