In Ontario, eight AMBER Alerts were activated in 2019 including 12 abducted children within the province.
Of those 12 children, 11 of them were located safely and six out of the eight suspects were arrested. All eight abductions in 2019 were familial says an OPP news release.
All AMBER Alerts in 2019 were requested by municipal police service investigations and issued by the OPP on their behalf.
Today marks International AMBER Alert Awareness Day, honouring the memory of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996.
AMBER Alerts are distributed through Canada's emergency alerting system, Alert Ready.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission requires all FM radio, AM radio, over-the-air television stations, subscription-based broadcasting service providers and, as of April 2018, wireless service providers, to distribute these alerts. Government officials developed a specific list of the types of alerts that are considered a threat to life, which includes AMBER Alerts.
What types of alerts are broadcast?
"Once a child is abducted there is no way to determine the exact location the abductor is headed. It is important to alert the entire province, which is consistent with all other provinces in Canada. The AMBER Alert on April 25, 2019 concluded at a distance of over 290 kilometres and the AMBER Alert on May 14, 2019 concluded at a distance of over 400 kilometres within a few short hours," says the release.
"Your child has been abducted. Those are words no parent ever wants to hear.," says OPP Inspector Angie McCollum. "You may be sick to your stomach and feel helpless. I know as a parent, you want every possible set of eyes on the lookout in hopes for a safe return of your child. That is the purpose of the AMBER Alert Program."
The system is not without its critics however.
People who have been woken up by the jarring alarm that goes with it is leading to a growing call for the system to be overhauled.
Global News reported that a University of Nevada study conducted over a decade ago determined that Amber Alerts accomplished far less than claimed by law enforcement. It determined that most cases involved a family member and played no role in the return of abducted children. The majority of its success was in child custody fights in which there was, statistically, a lower risk of harm to the child.