Vancouver | 23 April 2012
British Columbia’s AMBER Alert system is getting a major boost. Premier Christy Clark and Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond today announced a new government-wide initiative that will see 30,000 civil servants receive AMBER Alerts on their work computers and mobile devices on a 24-hour basis.
“There is nothing to compare with the terror a parent feels when their child goes missing,” said Premier Clark. “The AMBER Alert expansion will mean 30,000 extra sets of eyes all over B.C. looking for a child – helping them get back to their families faster, and making this tool more effective so that police can do their job. This is part of our government’s commitment to supporting strong families and safe communities.”
The expansion will get information out faster and more widely, helping police to bring children back to their families as quickly as safely as possible. AMBER Alerts will also be spread via the provincial government’s social media sites, including the Emergency Info BC site and Twitter feed: @EmergencyInfoBC
“Expanding the AMBER Alert program is just one example of how small innovations can have a significant impact on the criminal justice system and the safety of our communities,” said Minister Bond. “By getting AMBER Alerts out to a larger group of people, this will become even more valuable to police and ultimately to B.C. families who want to know that everything possible will be done in the unfortunate event that a child is missing.”
While all provinces have AMBER Alert, this step will place B.C. among leading jurisdictions in Canada. In making the announcement, Premier Clark challenged private sector organizations and Crown corporations to join the Province in a united effort. The first three Crown corporations to have committed to implementing AMBER Alerts in their own systems are BC Hydro, ICBC and BC Transit. Eventually all Crown corporations will be phased into the program. From the private sector, London Drugs and Teck have agreed to take up government’s challenge. The first phase of the program expansion will be completed by May 25, International Missing Children’s Day.
AMBER Alert is used to seek the public’s help for the safe and prompt return of children. It immediately broadcasts descriptions of the abducted victims, their abductors and suspected vehicles involved. A total of 12 AMBER Alerts involving 15 children have been activated in B.C. since 2004, the year the program began (an average of two alerts a year). All 15 were located due to the program’s ability to raise awareness and disseminate vital information.
The B.C. RCMP co-ordinates the resources of police agencies, the media and the public to provide the most up to date and immediate information about child abductions. They also work with municipal police departments to activate notifications within local jurisdictions.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Rideout, criminal operations officer for the BC RCMP –
“By broadening the reach of AMBER Alert, police will be closer to our goal of ensuring that every single person in British Columbia is immediately notified when a child has been abducted. The importance of timely dissemination of information to the broadest audience possible is critical in these investigations.”
Wynne Powell, president and chief executive officer, London Drugs –
“London Drugs applauds the B.C. government for taking this step to broaden the technology and distribution of AMBER Alerts. London Drugs is a family-owned, B.C.-based company, and we are proud to be a partner in this important program supporting the safety of B.C. families.”
Jon Schubert, president and chief executive officer, ICBC –
“ICBC is pleased to be able to help B.C. children and families. Our employees and broker partners are active in communities throughout the province – these AMBER Alerts will allow them to be another set of eyes to help find missing children. We’re dedicated to road safety and this is a natural extension of our efforts to help make communities safer.”
Manuel Achadinha, president and CEO, BC Transit –
”At BC Transit, safety is our number one priority. Making our buses and operators part of the community effort to protect children through the AMBER Alert program is a privilege and responsibility we take very seriously.”
Crystal Dunahee, president, ChildFind BC –
“As with technology everything must change or it becomes stale and forgotten. This new enhancement to the AMBER Alert by the B.C. government is a move in the right direction. On behalf of all parents of missing children; thank you.”
British Columbians can sign up to receive AMBER Alerts via text message subscription at: www.wirelessAMBER.ca
The RCMP has plans to introduce further enhancements to the AMBER Alert system in the summer.