UPDATE: Missing 11-year-old found safe along Northwest Highway by alert citizen (See The Cardinal Missing 11-Year-Old Juvenile Found, Paramedics Checking Her Condition at Arlington Heights Police Headquarters, Arlington Heights).
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The lack of an AMBER Alert for missing Arlington Heights girl Sydney Alaya has many people asking, “Why no AMBER Alert?” The answer can be found in the standards or guidelines offered to states by the United States Department of Justice.
Each state AMBER Alert plan has its own criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts. The PROTECT Act, passed in 2003, which established the role of AMBER Alert Coordinator within the Department of Justice (DOJ), calls for DOJ to issue minimum standards or guidelines for AMBER Alerts that states can adopt voluntarily.
DOJ’s guidance on criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts is:
• Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place
• The child is at risk of serious injury or death
• There is sufficient descriptive information of child, captor, or captor’s vehicle to issue an alert
• The child must be 17 years old or younger
• It is recommended that immediate entry of AMBER Alert data be entered in FBI’s National Crime Information Center. Text information describing the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the child should be entered, and the case flagged as Child Abduction.
It’s the possible abduction situation with the lack of a trigger for an AMBER Alert caused by these standards from the US Department of Justice that has been the primary reason for The Cardinal’s criticism of the use of secret military grade police radios by police agencies in the Northwest Central Dispatch System.
Sydney Alaya was reported missing at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, October 2, 2014. A police statement about the missing girl was not released until 10:55 p.m. — almost 11 hours later. Many people (if not most people) didn’t receive reverse 9-1-1 alerts from the Village of Arlington Heights until after midnight.
If police radios weren’t secret, the media would have released the missing juvenile information within minutes or hours of the missing person’s report. Tens of thousands of potential eyewitnesses would have been activated via traditional media and social media. The alert would have occurred while it was still daylight, not near midnight when thousands of citizens were in bed, and when the critical opportunity to report a possible sighting or suspicious incident had passed.
Warning from The Cardinal on February 18, 2013 before police switched to a secret military grade encrypted police radio system on June 5, 2013 …
“A missing or kidnapped child, or recent criminal activity regarding a child sex offender at large will have an ineffective emergency response when media, neighborhood watch groups are not able to monitor real-time police communications. Police that want encryption might tell you that the AMBER ALERT is effective for this scenario. But early detection, and fresh memories are far more important than the AMBER ALERT which is often delayed and must meet certain criteria before it is activated.”
The first missing child scenario has now occurred in Arlington Heights under the umbrella of “secure” police radio secrecy. Whether the missing juvenile incident from yesterday, October 2, 2014 is a runaway case or a dreadful child abduction is uncertain at this point. What is certain, is that public safety awareness methods applied by police agencies in the Northwest Central Dispatch System — when it really counts — is a big failure. The expensive Motorola secret police radio system has failed its first reality test.
See also …
U.S. Department of Justice AMBER Alert Frequently Asked Questions
IMPORTANT ALERT …
Cardinal Note: As of June 5, 2013 — up to and including the date of this article — police incidents related to the above police agency are not reported in real time or within a prompt time period. Police protecting their realm of investigation and police activity, have chosen to use secret military-grade encrypted radios to withhold their police communications, which were previously open to the public and news media via monitoring of public safety scanning radios — with no known negative results locally.
The delayed knowledge or entirely blacked out knowledge resulting from encrypted police communications may protect certain police operations and investigations, but it also puts the public at risk in situations such as when armed and dangerous offenders are at large and when other similar situations occur, such as when desperate offenders of property crimes are eluding police. In other cases, the delayed or blacked out information inhibits or prohibits the possibility of the public providing early witness accounts before a criminal trail goes cold. Citizens are much more likely to recognize or recall suspicious or criminal activity if they are aware of the criminal incident within minutes or hours of its occurrence. The most serious incident involving dire results would be a trail that is allowed to go cold in the case of child abduction.
The lack of real time information from public police dispatch also weakens an effective neighborhood watch program mostly working to prevent property loss, but also working to prevent possible violent crimes.
Lack of real time information from police dispatch also delays public awareness or eliminates public awareness of general hazards and traffic or other situations in every day living in an otherwise economically thriving community.
Police have alternate ways to transmit tactical, operational or investigative information, while still keeping their main public dispatch channels open for the best balance of public safety and police safety.
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