CHP celebrates two decades of saving lives with California’s Amber Alert

The California Highway Patrol is celebrating the lifesaving collaboration of many partners behind the scenes, including members of the public, who have helped safely reunite hundreds of abducted children with their families during 20 years of the state’s America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Alert system.

“The tremendous success of this program would not be possible without the partnership of law enforcement throughout California, broadcasters, government agencies at both the state and federal level, and members of the public,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “When a child or at-risk individual goes missing, every second counts, and the AMBER Alert program provides a critical resource for law enforcement and the public.”

In July 2002, state law designated the CHP as the statewide coordinator for California’s AMBER Alert program. Since the first AMBER Alert activation in August 2002, 376 children or at-risk individuals have been found safe because of the state’s emergency alert system designed to recover missing children or at-risk individuals by employing the public’s assistance.

The CHP issues an AMBER Alert at the request of a law enforcement agency investigating the abduction of a child or at-risk individual.

For an AMBER Alert to be issued, the CHP works with local law enforcement to confirm:

  • a child 17 years old or younger, or at-risk individual, has been abducted or taken;
  • the individual is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death;
  • and there is information available that if shared with the public, could assist in the safe recovery of the individual.

As the AMBER Alert program has continued to evolve and through the years, the CHP has added secondary distribution methods to supplement the emergency alert system. These include the Wireless Emergency Alerts program, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission; the California Department of Transportation’s Changeable Message Signs on freeways; @CHPAlerts on Twitter; and the California Lottery displays AMBER Alerts on digital terminal signs and printed on lottery tickets.