DOJ Press Release letterhead

  • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2009
  • Office of Justice Programs
  • Contact: Joan LaRocca
  • (202) 307-0703


       WASHINGTON, D.C. - Mary Lou Leary, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and National AMBER Alert Coordinator, honored Kerry Hammond and Dale Zabriskie during the National AMBER Alert Symposium in Tampa, FL on Tuesday.

       Kerry Hammond, a big rig trucker from South Jordan, Utah, was crossing the Utah-Nevada border on January 16 in his 18-wheeler when he heard an AMBER Alert pertaining to an abducted 14-year-old girl traveling in a red Honda. Hammond made a mental note of the vehicle description and license plate number. A few minutes later, he saw the vehicle and immediately dialed 911. Hammond is being recognized for his call-to-duty actions as a concerned citizen and helping to rescue a young girl and return her to her loved ones. Mr. Hammond received The AMBER Alert Citizen Award.

       Zabriskie, from Salt Lake City, Utah, and President of the National Association of State Broadcasters, received the AMBER Alert Broadcast/Media Person of the Year Award for his efforts in being the voice for broadcasters on AMBER Alert issues. Zabriske has been active in the AMBER Alert program since its inception and has encouraged broadcasters across the United States to become partners in the AMBER Alert Program.

       "Keeping children safe is our number one priority, and the AMBER Alert System is an important tool for all of us," said Mary Lou Leary. "When a child is lost or abducted we want everyone to be vigilant and aware. We need to be sure that our response is both swift and seamless."

       This year, during the National AMBER Alert Symposium, OJP recognized individual or collective efforts to protect children from abduction and to recover missing or abducted children. Award categories are:

       The AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert system began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. The system was created in memory of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas, who was abducted while riding her bicycle and later found murdered. AMBER Alerts are emergency messages broadcast when a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. For more information about the AMBER Alert program please visit


The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: 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. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at