“Fatal Flaw” in Amber Alert System?

June 5th, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by GD  

Marc Klaas, the American child-safety advocate who created the Amber Alert system has said that there are fatal flaws in the system. He criticized the fact that there is the need of a suspect vehicle in order to invoke an Amber Alert, and in the absence of one, Woodstock Police could not establish the alert after Victoria Tori Stafford’s disappearance on April 8. Klaas said, “In a stranger (kidnapping) or an overtly predatory scenario, the perpetrator is going to take steps to cover his tracks. Therefore, it’s incredibly unlikely you’ll be able to get that information. It excludes the vast majority of children who need the Amber Alert the most.”

Klaas’ daughter Polly was kidnapped in 1993 from a slumber party and killed, and he had taken up the issue of child safety much before creating the Amber Alert system. This was after nine-year old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped from a parking lot in Arlington, Texas in 1996. He helped the Hagerman family set up Amber Alert and the program spread rapidly to the rest of USA and Canada, but the regulations involved in the program have prevented it from being applied to cases like Elizabeth Smart and Adam Walsh abductions.

He said that the system has a “fatal flaw” since an Amber Alert could not be applied to the abduction of a child in the case where nobody could identify the vehicle in which they took the child away. In his words, “It’s a fatal flaw. I’m really concerned that the children that need this kind of response the most are the children least served by it.” He also insisted that a child who is not disturbed and has no chances of running away from home must come under Amber Alert if the child does not come home on time, without red-tape-ism governing the circumstances under which the system can be applied. Responding to opinions that this could make the system over-used and in many cases, ineffective, Klaas said, “They say it (could) be overused, but there’s no basis for that. Those (cases) don’t happen that often.”

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