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John Daley ReportingThere is new hope today for children who get kidnapped. The newly improved Amber Alert system gives out an instant message about an abduction and any Utahn can sign up to get notified.
The families of kidnapped children have long advocated for a multi-dimensional system to alert the public instantly. But it took the Elizabeth Smart case to raise awareness of the issue to the point where today a program is now in place to alert any Utahn by phone, pager or computer when there's an abduction.
Years from now the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction case of Elizabeth Smart may be remembered for two things: Elizabeth came home alive, and her remarkable survival story paved the way for saving many other kidnapped children.
You may recall the earlier version of an Amber Alert--the Rachel Alert--went out after Smart first went missing, but it took several crucial hours for the first fax to go out. The girl's father Ed has made it a personal crusade to make abduction alerts much quicker and more comprehensive.
Today he looked on as Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and others unveiled the new and improved system.
Ed Smart, Elizabeth Smart's Father: “We're so grateful, one that we have Elizabeth back. She's doing wonderfully. And two, that the awareness of child abductions is so much more elevated than it previously was. Because I really think that is the way that we find children."
Within seconds after the Amber Alert is activated the information will be transmitted to all Utah law enforcement agencies, TV and radio broadcasters, electronic highway and business signs, a flyer distribution system, ports of entry and truckers, highway advisory radio transmitters and a travel information phone line. And here's the groundbreaking part -- anyone requesting alerts can get them by pager, cell phone or computer.
Not every missing child qualifies. Like the Smart case there must be a clear abduction of a child younger than 17 believed to be in imminent danger where the public can help.
The hope is ordinary citizens will help bring kids home who, like Elizabeth, otherwise might never be discovered.
Ed Smart: “Even in finding Elizabeth, it was the public that brought her home. And that is the way the Amber Alert works."
There are two options for average Utahns wanting to sign up to receive the instant Amber Alert. You can fill out form on the computer to submit your information to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification. You can also download the Amber Alert ticker, which scrolls a message across your computer screen.