Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

January 16, 2014

Remembering Amber


Mineral Wells Index

— By TYLER MASK



Child safety is an ever-growing concern in the United States. With child exploitation and abductions occurring on a daily basis, it is no surprise that organizations and awareness movements are going on the offensive more with every passing day.

Texas Department of Public Safety Officials joined with law enforcement from around the country, Monday, in observance of National AMBER Alert Awareness Day.

AMBER is an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The system was created by Dallas-Fort Worth area law enforcement and media representatives in 1996.

Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan said that Mineral Wells has dealt with an AMBER Alert in the past; fortunately, it has been a very long time.

“(AMBER Alert) is a means of communication that has been very successful even though it has evolved from a very unfortunate event,” Sullivan said when asked about the importance of AMBER Alert. “It is a very powerful tool in trying to locate missing or endangered children, and it is very beneficial.”

Nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted from an abandoned Arlington grocery store parking lot18 years ago, Monday. She was out for an afternoon bike ride when a stranger showed up, took her and rode off in his truck. A few days later, her body was found – naked and lifeless – in a drainage ditch within four miles of her abduction site. Her throat was slit.

Since then, police have had almost 7000 dead-end leads and are as close to finding Amber’s killer as they were in 1996 when she was slain.

Child abduction statistics seem nearly as disheartening as the story of Amber Hagerman. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the following are just a few of those statistics:

• More than 200,000 children are abducted each year by family members.

• More than 58,000 are abducted by nonfamily members.

• The first three hours are crucial when trying to find a missing child. Although murder is rare in abduction cases, nearly 100 murders take place each year with 76.2 percent of the murders taking place within the first three hours.

As dark as these statistics are, NCMEC also contains statistics that bring positive light to the situation:

• NCMEC has helped law enforcement recover over 191,179  children since its founding in 1984.

• AMBER Alert has led to the recovery of 679 children as of Jan. 3, 2014.

• Since October of 2013, NCMEC’s 24-hour, toll-free call center has received over 3,858,042 calls.

Although it began as an initiative in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, AMBER Alert has become a national program. In 2002, Governor Rick Perry established the Texas AMBER Alert, which complemented the already existing programs.

In total, the Texas AMBER Alert program has been utilized by the Texas Department of Public Safety 109 times and aided in the recovery of 124 children.

Child safety is a serious matter. Make sure you are well-informed on the services that are available to you. For more information regarding child safety, consult NCMEC online at www.missingkids.com or contact your local DPS office at (940) 325-6903.