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Amber Alert: 20 years old and still effective

WAAY 31 asked law enforcement if the Amber Alert system needs tweaking after two decades. The answer: the system is strong.

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 4:58 PM
Updated: Dec 11, 2017 7:36 PM

On a playground, if a stranger were to abduct a child, an Amber Alert would go out almost immediately.

Oftentimes, though, far from a stranger, a parent is the abductor.

Amber Alert message received on cell phone

When Tonya Alvarado receives an Amber Alert, it gets her attention. "I see most of them either on the signs that are on the freeway or my phone, my cell phone," Alvarado told WAAY 31 News.

Alvarado is from Madison. She’s a mom of four.

She says family infighting can put a child in serious danger. "There are situations where a custodial parent will take the child,” Alvarado said. “But, it is a dangerous situation."

"We don't put it out there unless that Amber Alert situation meets those criteria," Curtis Summerville told WAAY 31. Summerville is with Alabama State Troopers. He says the Amber Alert system is tried and true.

"So, if it's out there, there is an element of danger involved. We do believe an abduction has taken place. And we do believe the child is under the age of 18."

Summerville says the system's simplicity is key to its effectiveness. It's still working as designed.

Trooper Summerville says law enforcement often depends on families to size up the level of danger.

"Keep in mind, there's a custodial parent." Summerville told us. "There's a non-custodial parent. In these situations, we'll also put it out because we -- we perceive there may or may not be a danger -- but, we put it out there anyway because we don't know."

Back to Tonya Alvarado. “Whether it was a parent or a stranger, to me, I view them all the same," she told us.
In these situations, we'll also put it out because we perceive there may -- or may not be a

"My motherly instinct would be I wish I could find that -- or I am on the lookout. I'm always on the lookout for what they say the car looks like or the person," Alvarado said.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says you should take every Amber Alert seriously. A child's life could be on the line.

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