An alert for every occasion

April 2, 2014, 1:51 p.m. | By Dylan Ahunhodjaev | 10 years ago

An AMBER Alert approach in other areas would lower the crime rate

According to the closest estimates made in 1999 by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 800,000 children were abducted in America, at a rate of around 2,000 per day.

The loss of a child is unmatched in the world of theft in practically every term imaginable. It exacts irreparable damage on the child, their family and the whole community. It takes unquestionable evil and sickness to perpetrate the crimes. It casts a lengthy shadow of horror on our collective imagination, a cancer we know exists but cannot understand until it has us in its clutches.

Few would argue that the abduction and abuse of children is among the most despicable crimes that a person can commit. This is why, in recent years, the response from the American public has been a resounding public crackdown—lawmakers across the United States putting laws and response systems like the AMBER Alert program in place to recover children and deter would-be abductors.

Since the rollout of the AMBER Alert system in 1996, 50 states have adopted the program and 685 abducted children have been recovered. AMBER Alert responses and criteria vary state to state, but the idea behind every program is to make as many civilians as possible aware that an abduction has taken place in their area. Alerts are broadcast on radio, television, electronic billboards and in some cases via text messages and email.

Protecting children should and has been a top priority for citizens and law enforcement, but what about all of the other crimes that take place daily in this country? With an AMBER-style alert system in place on a statewide or regional basis, police could respond more quickly to and increase awareness of crimes taking place in communities everywhere.

Every year in America, peace of mind and security—never mind billions in dollars and property—are stolen on a minute-by-minute, second-by-second basis. In 2010, a forcible rape took place every 6.2 minutes, a robbery every 1.4 minutes, a larceny-theft every 5.1 seconds The percentage of these crimes that go unsolved varies from crime to crime and from year to year, but in cases of murder as many as 6,000 go unsolved each year.

We hear about these crimes on the news, usually after the fact, and often when suspects have already been apprehended. In cases of rape, when a repeat rapist averages 5.8 attacks before being arrested—if they are arrested at all—an alert to a community over Emergency Alert System channels including a photo or description of the rapist's physical appearance and where the crime took place could reduce the number of sex crimes that take place serially. Communities would be on the lookout for a perpetrator they can identify and individuals would be aware of a criminal in their area whether or not they pay attention to the news.

The number of crimes that go unsolved would go down as citizens would be more able to report criminals in their midst, knowing what they look like and where they are based. Law enforcement could be more responsive to the public and vice versa—civilians more aware of police actions turning over higher numbers of criminals after they commit an offense and before they can repeat it.

More awareness of criminal activity leads to less criminal activity, as the AMBER Alert website claims. Besides recovering a greater percentage of abductees, it says "some perpetrators release the abducted child after hearing the AMBER Alert on the radio or seeing it on television." We are working towards putting enough pressure on kidnappers so that they cannot get away with what they do; the time to extend that principle to other crimes is now.

Last updated: April 27, 2021, 12:42 p.m.

Tags: AMBER Alerts

Dylan Ahunhodjaev. Hi everyone--my name is Dylan Ahunhodjaev. The first name is Welsh (but I'm not Welsh) and the last name is Uzbek (I'm Uzbek, from Uzbekistan, or at least my dad is). My parents met in the Peace Corps. It's a cute story, remind me to … More »

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