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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the AMBER Alert Plan?
  • Who created the Statewide AMBER Alert Plan?
  • Who activates an AMBER Alert?
  • Then what happens?
  • What is the AMBER Alert Web Portal?
  • How does the Web Portal work?
  • What is the AMBER Alert Plan?
    It is a child abduction emergency alert using a Web-based technology to notify citizens of a child abduction. The alert provides details concerning the child and the perpetrator (if known), including descriptive information. Using the combined power of technology, the media, law enforcement, and the public, the ultimate goal of an AMBER Alert is to ensure the safe return of the child.

    The AMBER Alert Web Portal uses a geographic information system to provide map-based search capabilities and convey location-based information to the public. Law enforcement, media, and citizens can sign-up for wireless alerts and status updates via e-mail, fax or phone. In addition, the Department of Transportation and WSP work collaboratively to activate electronic billboards throughout Washington to alert citizens that a child has been abducted.

    Who created the Statewide AMBER Alert Plan?
    Stakeholders involved in the development of the plan include the WSP, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Washington State Association of Broadcasters, Emergency Management Division, WSDOT Department of Information Services, and E2C (Engaging & Empowering Citizenship/Earth 911).


    Who activates an AMBER Alert?
    Many law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Washington have formulated AMBER Alert Plans. Once notified there has been an abduction, they review the information relating to the abduction to determine if certain criteria are met. Many factors determine whether or not an actual AMBER Alert will occur, which include:

    • The age of the child. The child must be under 18 and known to have been abducted (e.g., not a runaway or thrownaway from home).
    • The abducted child is believed to be in danger of death or serious bodily injury.
    • The AMBER Alert activation should occur within 4 hours of the event qualifying unless circumstances warrant otherwise.
    • There must be enough descriptive information available to believe an AMBER Alert will assist in the recovery.
    • The incident must be reported to and investigated by a law enforcement agency.

    In the event a law enforcement agency does not have an approved plan, they must use the resources of another law enforcement agency with an approved plan to activate an AMBER Alert, or the WSP will assist them in activating an alert.

    When an incident does not qualify under the criteria for an AMBER Alert, the WSP will offer press releases, the WSP’s Missing Children Clearinghouse, and other notification methods available at that time.



    What is the AMBER Alert Web Portal?
    The AMBER Alert Web Portal is a website offering a single location from which the media, law enforcement, and the public can obtain current AMBER Alert information on abducted children.

    Law enforcement, the media, and citizens can use the portal to be notified of alerts and status updates via e-mail, phone, fax or wireless phone.

    How does the Web Portal work?
    Once a law enforcement agency has introduced the alert information to the AMBER Alert Web Portal, it is available for viewing. The information available on the Web Portal may include details concerning where the abduction took place, specific physical description of the child and abductor (if known), place last seen, description of the suspect vehicle, photographs, etc.