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Jed Boal ReportingNearly three years after the initiation of the Amber Alert system, we have a better picture of how well it works and who abducts our kids.
Ten days ago a father kidnapped his seven-year-old son. Police put out an Amber Alert, the tenth in Utah in three years. This case again raises the questions: Is it working? And is it over-used?
February 19th, seven-year-old Alexander Chido never came home from a movie with his father. The boy's grandparents called the Utah County Sheriff because Cory Chido is not allowed unsupervised visits. At first police did not think the child was in danger. But over several hours the father called three times to say he was on his way, then there we no calls.
Sgt. Yvette Rice, Utah County Sheriff's Office: "That's when they became really concerned. Also with the knowledge that there was a protective order against the natural father."
Then Chido called and demanded $40 to bring his son back.
Sgt. Yvette Rice, Utah County Sheriff's Office: "When we received that information that there was a potential ransom situation that was occurring, that pushed it over the edge for us."
Utah County issued an amber alert. They located the father, and the boy at a different location 90 minutes later.
Sgt. Yvette Rice, Utah County Sheriff's Office: "All of the criteria was met for an amber alert at that time, and it was issued as quickly as we could get it out. We didn't want to take a chance."
Police work found the boy, the Amber Alert was a safety net. After each Amber Alert this task force takes a critical look and talks with the agency that issued the alert. When the system started, many assumed the abductors would be strangers. In reality family members and acquaintances are the most common kidnappers.
Paul Murphy, Utah Attorney General's Office: "An abduction by a family member can be just as deadly as any other kind."
Training remains the key and not all agencies in state are trained. But a video is available and a wallet-sized card lists the criteria. If the Amber Alert is over-used it’s ineffective.
The AG's Office thinks, in each Utah case, investigating agencies made the right call.
Paul Murphy, Utah Attorney General's Office: "Based on the information they had at the time, they followed the criteria, and correctly issued an amber alert."
The father was charged with child kidnapping and violation of a protective order. If they err, the Attorney General's Office hopes police err on the side of safety.