New Alabama AMBER Alert criteria goes into effect following Bessemer incident

Amber Alert phone

Following an incident on Wednesday in Bessemer, Gov. Kay Ivey asked acting Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Secretary Hal Taylor to revise Alabama’s AMBER Alert guidelines.

On Wednesday,  a vehicle was stolen with a 19-month-old child in it at a gas station in Bessemer, Ala. Nearly two hours later the child had yet to be found and the Bessemer police requested the AALEA issue an AMBER Alert for the child. Based on the criteria in place at that time, the incident did not meet the previously adopted requirements for an AMBER Alert to be issued.

As a result, Ivey announced Friday the finding of an “abduction” shall no longer be required for an AMBER Alert to be issued. Because of Ivey’s involvement, Alabama’s policy will mirror that of the the United States Department of Justice’s recommended criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts, and will result in more AMBER Alerts being issued in the state.

“We need to protect the children of our state. Though we pray that an AMBER Alert is never needed, I asked Secretary Taylor to broaden the scope of our AMBER Alert requirements to safeguard as many children as possible,” Ivey said in a news release. “This change today ensures that we are keeping the public better informed. AMBER Alerts give all Alabamians the opportunity to be involved in caring for our most vulnerable asset, our children.”

The new guidelines immediately went into effect.

 “It is the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s goal to rescue abducted and missing children. By expanding our criteria for issuing an AMBER alert, we will further that goal, and hopefully, make sure that as many vulnerable children as possible are protected from those whom would do them harm,” Taylor added. “Due to ongoing investigations, we may not always release why an alert may or may not be issued, but we will ensure that all cases are evaluated against this new standard.”