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DOJ Press Release letterhead

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Catherine Sanders
Phone: (202) 307-0703
TTY: (202) 514-1888


            ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has initiated talks with tribal leaders about bringing AMBER Alert to Indian country. Regina B. Schofield, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), who also serves as the National AMBER Alert Coordinator, made the announcement today at the 2006 National AMBER Alert Conference in Albuquerque .

           "Tribes can play an important part in strengthening our AMBER Alert network," said Assistant Attorney General Schofield. "AMBER Alert has shown itself to be a strong criminal deterrent, and any time crime is deterred, the quality of life goes up. I am confident that it will have the same effect in Indian country."

           The talks about expansion of AMBER Alert into Indian country is part of the Department of Justice's national AMBER Alert strategy. As of last year, all 50 states had statewide AMBER Alert plans in place so that all levels of state law enforcement know when a child is abducted. Only four states had statewide AMBER Alert plans in 2001.

           To create a seamless AMBER Alert network across the country, Assistant Attorney General Schofield is encouraging tribal nations to develop their own plans tailored to their specific needs so that children in Indian country may benefit from AMBER Alert. While in New Mexico , Assistant Attorney General Schofield has met with numerous tribal leaders and spoke today with state AMBER Alert coordinators to encourage them to work side by side with tribal governments to create a seamless AMBER Alert network nationwide.

           This year, Assistant Attorney General Schofield launched a new national AMBER Alert strategy to strengthen the existing AMBER Alert network, enhance coordination and communication, and expand its scope. As part of her new national strategy, Assistant Attorney General Schofield also announced that a new guide for law enforcement public information officers, AMBER Alert Best Practices Guide for Public Information Officers, would now be available at the AMBER Alert Web site: The Department of Justice is also working with Canada and Mexico to encourage cross-border cooperation if a child is abducted from the United States across our northern or southern borders.

           The PROTECT Act of 2003, signed into law on April 30, 2003 by President George W. Bush, established the nation AMBER Alert Coordinator role. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales appointed OJP Assistant Attorney General Schofield to serve as the national AMBER Alert Coordinator and a national strategy to create a seamless national network of alert systems has followed. Nearly 90 percent of the 278 recoveries of abducted children have occurred since AMBER Alert became a nationally coordinated effort.

            AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) 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, including physical descriptions as well as information about the abductor's vehicle, which could lead to the child's recovery. AMBER Alerts are also now available to wireless users who can opt to receive geographically-specified messages on their wireless devices or cell phones through an AMBER Alert wireless messaging system.

            The AMBER Alert program began in Texas in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children, in memory of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas who was abducted while riding her bicycle and later found murdered.

           OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and an office: 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 Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk.