Life-saving AMBER Alerts are now available to the millions of people on the social networking service Facebook, including to those who live in Louisiana.
Effective today, Facebook users are able to sign up to receive state-specific AMBER Alert bulletins which will be sent to them through the Facebook “News Feed” feature. A total of 53 new AMBER Alert Pages have been created, one for each state, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Facebook users will also be able to share the AMBER Alerts with their friends.
The new AMBER Alert Facebook page for Louisiana can be found at http://www.facebook.com/AMBERalertLA.
There are more than half a billion users of Facebook. The new Facebook AMBER Alert pages represent an important expansion of the national AMBER Alert program.
Information about the new initiative was announced today by Facebook, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The announcement was made the day before the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, namesake of the national AMBER Alert Program.
“Average people doing average things but paying attention are saving lives and reuniting families,” said Ernie Allen, President of NCMEC. “With more than 500 million Facebook users this bold initiative will help us mobilize many more people and bring more missing children home.”
On Thursday, January 13, 2011, the nation recognizes National AMBER Alert Awareness Day. Since the program’s inception, 525 abducted children across the country have been safely recovered as a direct result of AMBER Alerts.
There is one official AMBER Alert plan in Louisiana and that plan is administered by the Louisiana State Police, in cooperation with the Louisiana broadcasters. This statewide plan is recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Since the inception of the Louisiana plan in October of 2002, there have been only twelve activations. In all cases, the children were successfully recovered. There were no activations in Louisiana in 2009 and 2010.
As a founding member of the Louisiana AMBER Alert Foundation Board, and the Louisiana program’s first state coordinator, LSP Colonel Mike Edmonson emphasized the importance of partnerships, “The success of the LA AMBER Alert Plan can be directly attributed to the growing number and commitment of national and state partnerships. The addition of Facebook as a partner is another effective means of getting the word out when a child is abducted, and when timing is critical.”
Additionally, the public may sign-up to receive free text messages via www.wirelessamberalerts.org. Those who sign-up will also receive the AMBER Alert cancellation message when the alert is no longer required.
The Louisiana State Police strictly adhere to the AMBER Alert criteria, as recommended by the Department of Justice: the abducted child must be aged 17 or younger, the child must be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death, and there must be enough descriptive information about the abducted child, suspect and vehicle in order to make an AMBER Alert activation viable. The Louisiana AMBER Alert plan is not intended for runaways or for the majority of parental abductions, except in rare circumstances.