Ten years ago a nine-year-old girl named Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered in Arlington. Her disappearance prompted the formation of the Amber Plan, a national system of alerting the public about missing children. The Houston Regional Amber Plan has been in operation for five years and Director Beth Alberts says they have used the alert 49 times for a total of 51 children.
Alberts says it's clear the system is working. Amber Alerts are issued soley by law enforcement agencies and there are four criteria for doing so. A child must be 17 years old or younger, the law enforcement agency must believe the child has either been abducted or rule out other alternatives, there must be sufficient information to release to the media and public, and they must believe the child is endangered. Texas Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Tela Mange says the criteria are in place to ensure the system isn't overused.
So while agencies carefully consider every alert issued, Mange says there is no denying the system is a valuable tool for finding missing children.