A state senator from Long Island wants to make the system more efficient and have more children included in the alerts.
The new effort follows a deadly case last year and another child abduction this week.
When a child goes missing, smart phones alert us and highway signs get our attention.
Nationwide, there are just under 200 Amber alerts each year – not a lot when you consider last year the total number of reports for missing children was 420,000.
“We don’t use Amber alert on every child abduction case. If we did every missing child it’d quite frankly overwhelm the public to do so,” Robert Lowery of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said.
Cases where an Amber alerts didn’t happen include Wednesday in Jackson Heights, Queens. Police say Christian Ceballos allegedly injured his baby’s mother, walked out with the infant, and then barricaded himself in a building.
He was eventually coaxed out and arrested. The baby is safe.
U.S. Department of Justice approved criteria for Amber alert states:
“…if it’s a minor, a confirmed abduction, and there’s a risk of serious bodily harm or death… An Amber alert is justified.”
Law enforcement agencies make the requests and, in the case of New York, Special Victims Unit officials with the state police make the final call.
State police denied CBS2’s repeated requests for on camera interviews about which cases get an Amber alert and which ones don’t.
“No one should have a problem with a panel of experts looking at a system, a vitally important system and offer recommendations,” State Sen. Phil Boyle of Bay Shore said.
Boyle has authored a bill for a blue ribbon panel, in memory of two-year-old Jovani Ligurgo, who was kidnapped by his father john last summer.
The toddler was taken to Virginia and killed in a murder-suicide.
The child’s mother, Maria Busone, reportedly begged for an Amber alert that never came.
State police argued criteria prevented an Amber alert for Jovani because his father had no violent criminal history.
Sen. Boyle’s bill passed the senate but not the assembly. He says whenever a parent demonstrates violence, even without a prior record, an Amber alert is a no brainer.
“You don’t know if that anger and violence is going to be extended on to the child,” Boyle told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
“It’s often asked us why don’t we send out Ambers on all missing children?” Lowery said. “It might get us to the situation where we have a car alarm affect no one pays attention.”
Lowery added half of all Amber alerts involve domestic situations. He told CBS2 Sen. Boyle’s bill would be welcome as they’re always looking for better ways to find missing kids.
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