DOJ Press Release letterhead

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Catherine Sanders
Phone: (202) 307-0703
TTY: (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Justice Department announced today that broadcasters across the country have been asked to air Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the AMBER Alert network, to honor the memory of Amber Hagerman and as part of the national awareness campaign for this valuable public safety resource. The PSAs have been distributed nationwide by the National Association of Broadcasters and feature John Walsh of America's Most Wanted and Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her home in June 2002 and safely recovered nine months later.

    Nine years ago today, Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle, and then brutally murdered. The AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert network was created after her tragic death. AMBER Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The broadcasts include information about the child and the abductor that could lead to the child's recovery, such as a physical description and information about the abductor's vehicle. AMBER Alerts have saved 188 lives since they began in 1996, when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children.

    "Few things grip law enforcement with more urgency than finding a missing child. Rapid response is vital in abduction cases, and the widespread use of the AMBER Alert network makes it the nation's most powerful tool for thwarting child abductions," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "This cooperative effort among citizens, public agencies, and private firms is a daunting obstacle to would-be abductors, so much so that several have surrendered after only a brief flight from the law."

    "AMBER Alert is a very successful tool for recovering abducted children. More than 185 children have been taken out of harm's way, and hundreds of parents spared their worst nightmare," said Deborah J. Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), who also serves as National AMBER Alert Coordinator. "We salute the men and women of law enforcement, broadcasting and the public who have worked together to bring abducted children safely home."

    In October 2002, President Bush hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children. Following the 2002 White House Conference, the Attorney General named Deborah J. Daniels as the National AMBER Alert Coordinator; and OJP, in partnership with law enforcement, broadcasters and others—including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children—developed a national strategy to create a seamless national network of alert systems. The PROTECT Act, which President Bush signed into law in April 2003, statutorily established the National AMBER Alert Coordinator role. Since that time, AMBER Alert has made remarkable progress.

  • The recovery of 154 children in just the past two years represents over 80 percent of all 188 recoveries since AMBER Alert began in Texas in 1996. This is a four-fold increase in recoveries since October, 2002.
  • Over 2000 law enforcement officers, broadcasters and transportation officials have been trained nationwide in critical aspects of AMBER Alert since October 2002. The Department of Justice held two national training conferences and one AMBER Alert technology conference.
  • At the end of 2001, there were only four statewide AMBER Alert plans; now, 49 states have plans in place.
  • OJP provided Guidance on Criteria for Issuance of AMBER Alerts to law enforcement, broadcasters, transportation officials, and the general public to aid in the development of AMBER statewide plans.
  • Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that perpetrators are well aware of the power of AMBER Alert, and have in many cases released an abducted child upon hearing the alert.

    Additional information about AMBER Alert can be found in the Report to the White House on AMBER Alert, which is available on the AMBER Alert website, The website features comprehensive information on AMBER Alert and stories about successful AMBER Alert recoveries.

    OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education, and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program. More information can be found at