HOUSTON (CW39) – Amber alerts and silver alerts are issued whenever someone is in danger. You may hear the notifications on your phone spreading information about the urgency of the situation. The Wireless Emergency Alert program is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is the program that distributes notifications from authorized federal, state, local and tribal government agencies that alert us from imminent threats to safety or an emergency situation.
Amber Alerts are issued for abducted children that meet the Amber Alert criteria. The specific criteria is needed to prevent overuse of Amber Alerts. This could result in the public becoming desensitized to the notifications.
The Department of Justice’s Guidance on Criteria for issuing Amber Alerts is as follows:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
- The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
- The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
Who to call if you child goes missing?
According to Texas Center for the Missing, “Only a law enforcement agency can issue a regional or state Silver Alert“. This alert system is used to help locate missing elderly diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The following criteria must be met to activate the Houston Regional Silver Alert Network according to Texas Center for the Missing:
- The missing person is 65 years of age or older.
- The senior citizen has a diagnosed impaired mental condition, and the senior citizen’s disappearance poses a credible threat to the senior citizen’s health and safety. Family or legal guardian of the missing senior citizen must provide documentation from a medical or mental health professional of the senior citizen’s condition OR proof of prescription medication used to treat Alzheimer’s/dementia.
- It is confirmed that an investigation has taken place verifying that the senior citizen’s disappearance is due to his/her impaired mental condition, and alternative reasons for the senior citizen’s disappearance have been ruled out.
- There is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the senior citizen. Highway signs will be activated only if accurate vehicle information is available AND it is confirmed that the senior citizen was driving the vehicle at the time of the disappearance.
If you feel that a silver alert should be issued for your loved one, here is what you need to make sure you have all the information needed including physical description of the missing individual, medical documentation, a vehicle description if possible, and photo. Then you should contact the Emergency Alert Coordinator at (832) 269-2553 or email@example.com for activation assistance.