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Amber Alert

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No doubt the Amber Alert system established in recent years is a powerful law enforcement tool that can be used to save the lives of threatened children. Across the country and here in Utah, it has proven its value.

In KSL’s view, though, care must be taken not to dilute the effectiveness of the tool by issuing an Amber Alert when the evidence of abduction is flimsy, at best, and doesn’t fully meet established criteria.

Such happened in Utah a couple of weeks ago. And a national study says it happened relatively frequently throughout the country last year. Of 233 Amber Alerts issued nationally in 2004, “46 were made for children who were lost, had run away or were the subjects of hoaxes and misunderstandings.”*

Admittedly, it is a fine line police agencies often walk in deciding whether to issue an Amber Alert, especially when the lives of children may be at stake. Still, care must be taken not to cheapen the established Amber Alert criteria; otherwise the program’s credibility will suffer. If alerts frequently turn out to be domestic disagreements or false reports, will people continue to pay attention?

KSL believes the young Amber Alert system warrants support, but it could also benefit from some serious fine tuning in order to assure its long-term effectiveness.

*Scripps Howard News Service Study

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