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Roberts urges Rhode Islanders to sign up for wireless AMBER Alerts

PROVIDENCE—Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts called on all Rhode Islanders to take an active role in the state’s emergency preparedness today, urging citizens to sign up for wireless cell phone AMBER Alerts and do their part to keep our children safe. In honor of National AMBER Alert Awareness Day 2007, Roberts was joined today at the State House by Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, Rep. Giannini, Providence Postmaster Daniel J. Doyle, Jr., and Captain James Swanberg of the Rhode Island State Police to stress how important coordination and rapid communication are to the success of the AMBER Alert system.

“When good government works well, we are able to make sure that our citizens are safe,” Roberts said. “For 11 years, the AMBER Alert system has been safely returning abducted children to their families and communities through the coordinated efforts of law enforcement officials, television and radio broadcasters, and individuals all across the country. Now, thanks to the existence of wireless AMBER Alerts, anyone with a cell phone can, and should, be part of the rapid emergency response network.”

Wireless AMBER Alerts are text messages that are sent out to subscribers as soon as the state police releases an AMBER Alert. Important information about the child and any known information about the abductors or the abductors’ vehicle are included. Anyone capable of receiving text messages and whose wireless carrier is a participant in the program can sign up to receive Wireless AMBER Alerts. Roberts signed up for the alert during the press conference. Rhode Islanders can sign up to receive wireless AMBER Alerts at or at

On display at the press conference was the AMBER Alert postage stamp, which was unveiled by the U.S. Postal Service on May 25, 2006 in honor of National Missing Children’s Day and depicts a reunited mother and child entwined in each other’s arms. The purpose of the stamp is to remind Americans of the important role that they play as citizens to work with law enforcement and broadcasters to help recover abducted children and return them to their families.

The AMBER Alert system is present in all 50 states. In Rhode Island, the AMBER Alert system been activated twice, both times resulting in the successful return of abducted children. Rhode Island’s AMBER Alert program was launched in 2002 by former Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (formerly attorney general), in conjunction with local broadcast stations, law enforcement and state agencies.

Saturday, January 13 is National AMBER Alert Awareness Day and marks the 11th anniversary of Amber Hagerman’s abduction and murder in Texas—the tragedy that sparked the creation of AMBER Alert. The AMBER Alert system, which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, gives citizens the basic information that enables them to be involved in the search for an abducted child. It was devised off the concept that law enforcement and media working together to alert the public could bring about the quick and safe recovery of abducted children. According to the Department of Justice, seventy-four percent of children who are kidnapped and later found murdered are killed within the first three hours after being taken. Time and rapid mass communication are critical if abducted children are to be successfully recovered.


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