Recent Rachael Alert Critiqued

Recent Rachael Alert Critiqued

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News Specialist Jed Boal reportingThe abduction of Nicholas Tripplett led to the second statewide Rachael Alert since the program started, last April.

Law enforcers and media met this afternoon to discuss how well it worked and whether changes would help.

When that alert went out yesterday morning, arguably more people heard about that crime at once than any other Utah crime before.

There were eyes out on the roads, ears in town, people across the state eager to help.

When the 2 1/2-month-old baby was taken from the ZCMI Mall, initally police thought the abductors would take the boy to state services 12 hours later.

When police feared the suspects might flea the state they issued the Rachael Alert.

"We have to be certain we don't just use it because someone disappears. If we use it every time, people won't pay attention to it," says Capt. Scott Atkinson.

"We've heard back from Salt Lake P.D. that as soon as the alert went out, their phones lit up with very substantial leads," says Dale Zabriskie with the Utah Broadcasters Association.

It reached more people than the first alert issued when Elizabeth Smart disappeared in June.

In addition to television and radio broadcasts of critical information, road signs lit up, 8,000 fliers went to law enforcement, truckers received alerts and thousands of America Online subscribers were notified.

The child was found six hours after the alert went out.

Since the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart, the Utah missing child alert has served as a model for many other states.

When Elizabeth Smart disappeared Utah was the ninth state to set up the plan, eight months later 34 states have similar programs.

In June 16 children nationwide had been saved by alerts. Now 44 children have been saved.

The attorney general's office believes all law enforcement in Utah should become familiar with the Rachael Alert.

"Realize that they probably need to be trained, need to be educated about the Rachael Alert so they'll be ready in case it happens in their community," says spokesperson Paul Murphy.

All of the training and information law enforcement needs to issue a Rachael Alert is on the web.

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