New bill evaluates criteria regarding AMBER Alert notifications
The Utah Legislature is looking to adjust the criteria used to issue an AMBER Alert.
State Rep. Ryan Wilcox says that AMBER Alerts have become a crucial method for law enforcement to quickly get people aware of an abducted child, but while the alerts have been helpful in finding and rescuing children, there’s also been complaints about people getting too many of them.
Wilcox says that he’s seen these complaints all over social media with people complaining about how AMBER Alerts also notify people of ensuing custody cases, not just about endangered children. With the AMBER Alert Amendment bill, the criteria surrounding what warrants an alert will be changed, especially regarding parental custody battles.
The amendment essentially says that a law enforcement agency can’t issue an alert if a child has been taken by the child’s parent during a custody dispute unless there is a credible threat of imminent danger, serious bodily injury, or death to the child.
Child Advocate Edward Smart says that he was part of Utah’s AMBER Alert Committee when the system was new to the state and believes that the system hasn’t been overused. Smart says that dismissing a familial abduction isn’t acceptable, sharing the story of a close friend who lost her son and was only able to track him down for five years.