Cellular alerts for missing DC child didn't activate until hours after police issued Amber Alert

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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) Cellular customers didn't receive emergency notifications about the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd until four-and-a-half hours after DC Police issued her Amber Alert.

National electronic billboard companies and cellular providers can send out alerts immediately, but must be requested to do so by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The National Center says police did not request activation until shortly before 5:00 Thursday afternoon, more than four-and-a-half hours after the initial Amber Alert.

Click here to see story about disappearance: http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/dc/2014/03/20/8-year-old-girl-missing-southeast-dc/6642457/

Police issued an Amber Alert news release at 12:28 pm, but did not notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to begin the process of cell phone user notifications.

At the earliest, WUSA9 has identified cell phones equipped with Wireless Emergency Alert systems chirping at 5:06 pm.

Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said the department is not responsible for issuing Amber Alerts and directed WUSA9 to DC's office of Homeland Security.

Homeland Security said they do not authorize Amber Alerts, and are not responsible to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Crump responded that police had also notified the National Crime Information Center.

A Sprint spokeswoman says only phones pinging on towers police designate would chirp the alert.

A spokeswoman said phones outside the DC area would not alert, unless police have reason to believe the child or suspect(s) might be in other areas.

Crump also said a second Amber Alert was issued after the 12:28 alert because suspect information changed.

Friday, WUSA9 Reporter Bruce Leshan reported the following:

Relisha Rudd was last seen in the 1900 block of Massachusetts Avenue, SE. Police describe the little girl as a black female, 4' 0" tall, weighing approximately 70 to 80 pounds. She has black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion.

Metropolitan Police Department Youth Division officials confirm the white 1976 GMC pick-up was found by Prince George's County Police in Hyattsville early Friday morning. Police were looking for the truck with the MD tag 305015, which they believed was being driven by Kahlil Malik Tatum, Relisha's suspected abductor.

Tatum was a janitor at the homeless shelter where the girl had been living with her mother and stepfather.

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