WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration announced today that it is partnering with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) to provide AMBER Alerts at airports across the country. Federal security directors (FSDs) and 43,000 transportation security officers (TSOs) nationwide will actively join the effort to stop child abductors.
“To date 318 children have been recovered as a result of the AMBER Alert program,” said Ernie Allen, NCMEC’s president and CEO. “We believe that by partnering with TSA we can provide an even larger distribution outlet for AMBER Alerts and help to reunite even more children with their families.”
TSA will distribute AMBER Alert messages through the communications system of the national Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC). As soon as NCMEC is notified that an AMBER Alert has been issued by law enforcement, the TSOC will relay that information to FSDs at relevant airports. FSDs will receive information such as photos and descriptions of the abducted child, the suspect and vehicle.
“Our 43,000 TSOs come in direct contact with 2 million passengers each day,” said Kip Hawley, TSA administrator. “By putting TSOs on alert to a potential child abduction, we greatly increase the effectiveness of the AMBER Alert distribution, particularly in our nation’s airports. This initiative represents yet another way in which TSA can utilize its professional officers to assist the nation in securing the homeland.”
The AMBER Alert program, named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters and transportation agencies that activates an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases. The goal is to instantly galvanize the entire community in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
"AMBER Alerts are a critical part of the rapid response needed when a child is missing. The widespread use of the AMBER Alert network makes it the nation's most powerful tool for bringing abducted children home," said Regina B. Schofield, assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs and the National AMBER Alert coordinator. "The Department of Justice is proud to work with TSA and NCMEC in alerting the public and raising awareness of AMBER Alerts."
President Bush authorized the national AMBER Alert initiative as part of the PROTECT Act signed in 2003. The law formally established the federal government’s role in the AMBER Alert program, appointing the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the agency responsible for coordinating AMBER Alert programs on the national level. DOJ has officially partnered with NCMEC, authorizing it to coordinate and disseminate AMBER Alerts to secondary distributors.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC’s congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 419,400 leads. Since 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 125,200 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 107,600 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its Web site at www.missingkids.com.