The Amber Alert system is seeing success in quickly tracking down missing children but critics say it’s too restrictive and can only be used in certain cases. Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conard says his department has been using an alternative system called “A Child is Missing” for about a year. It notifies people — by phone — in the area where the person is missing.
Sheriff Conard says “The guidelines are not as restrictive as they are to issue an Amber Alert and we can get the information out to the public a lot quicker. They tell us they can have six-thousand phone calls made within ten minutes of us activating the program and providing them the information that they need.”
Conard says his sheriff’s department, based in Davenport, is now training other law enforcement agencies in eastern Iowa and western Illinois about the benefits of the alternative system. He says the program helps law enforcement agencies track down not only missing children, but the elderly and disabled people as well.
Conard says the idea is, putting more information out so more people are looking in the area of concentration — you don’t have to worry whether someone is watching the news to hear the Amber Alert. The calls are going to their home phones and the message will be left on their answering machines if they’re not there. The non-profit “A Child is Missing” program is based in Florida. It’s helped find more than 140 missing kids and adults since it first went on-line in 1997. It’s paid for with state and federal money.