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DOJ Press Release letterhead

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Summer Larson
Phone: (202) 307-0703
TTY: (202) 514-1888


Alert Honors the Life of Amber Hagerman

            WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Justice commemorated the 11-year anniversary of the AMBER Alert program today by outlining the tremendous success of the initiative that has saved the lives of hundreds of children nationwide.

            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:

  • All 50 states now have statewide AMBER Alert plans, creating a network of plans nationwide to aid in the recovery of abducted children.
  • Tribal nations are working to develop their own plans tailored to their specific needs so that children in Indian country may benefit from AMBER Alert.
  • Ninety percent of the 311 AMBER Alert recoveries have occurred since AMBER Alert became a nationally coordinated effort in 2002.
  • In May 2005, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced along with other government officials and the wireless industry that wireless users can receive geographically-specified messages on their wireless devices through an AMBER Alert wireless messaging system.
  • Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that perpetrators are well aware of the power of AMBER Alert, and in many cases have released an abducted child upon hearing the alert.

            "In 11 years, we have seen a single, local program grow into a powerful national network" said Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, who also serves as the National AMBER Alert Coordinator. "Amber's tragedy sparked the creation of the AMBER Alert program, now one of the most effective tools employed to protect children."

            On January 13, 1996, 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 abductor that could lead to the child's recovery, such as physical description and information about the abductor's vehicle. The AMBER Alert program began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children.

            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 appointed the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs to serve as the national AMBER Alert Coordinator and a national strategy was developed to create a seamless national network of alert systems.

            The Office of Justice Programs 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. More information can be found at