LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police are changing how they issue an Amber Alert in the state.
Starting Jan. 1, Amber Alerts will only be issued for cases of child abductions involving victims under the age of 18.
According to a release from MSP, all Amber Alerts will also receive a Wireless Emergency Alert whether or not there is a license plate number available. It’s unclear if the missing child’s last known location will play a factor on who receives the phone alert.
In the past, Amber Alerts were also issued for missing children with severe mental or physical disabilities who wandered away and weren’t able to take care of themselves.
“We’re going to an abduction-only Amber Alert, meaning that the child has to have been the victim of a stranger or acquaintance kidnapping. Those other cases that don’t fit that criteria would be put under secondary alert, which we’ve never had before, so we’re actually creating a secondary alert,” MSP Detective Sgt. Sarah Krebs, the Amber Alert coordinator, told 24 Hour News 8.
Michigan State Police say missing child cases that don’t meet the new Amber Alert criteria, including age, will be eligible for a new notification called an Endangered Missing Advisory.
The Endangered Missing Advisory will be sent to media in the area of the incident. Unlike an Amber Alert, the advisory does not use the Emergency Alert System to interrupt broadcasting and will not be sent as an alert to phones.
“Any time a child goes missing, it’s an urgent situation and we should all pay attention; however, in the case of child abductions the urgency is even greater,” Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, the director of MSP, said in a release. “By tightening the standards for issuing an Amber Alert we will ensure these alerts are utilized in only the most dire of circumstances to get credible, useful information out to the public in order to bring abducted children home safely.”
One common complaint about the Amber Alert system is the loud noise phones make once the alert is sent out, often in the middle of the night.
“It’s meant to get your attention and it does. And as many complaints as I get from the naysayers saying they don’t like it, I get as many parents and people that are happy that we woke them up because they’d want the same thing for their child had they been abducted,” Krebs said.
According to a release from MSP, Amber Alerts have helped police safely recover 262 missing children in Michigan.