When a child is abducted Maine Law Enforcement work with Maine Broadcasters to get the message out across the state as quickly as possible. There are criteria that need to be met before an AMBER Alert is issued.
The AMBER Plan requires law enforcement to meet three criteria when evaluating a child abduction. Police departments must have all 3 criteria present before an activation can occur.
The AMBER Plan should be activated ONLY when:
(1) a child 17 years of age or younger is abducted
(2) there is reason to believe the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or
(3) there is information available to disseminate to the general public which could assist in the safe recovery of the victim and/or the apprehension of a suspect.
2. The AMBER Plan is activated only when the specific requirements of the plan are met as outlined above. An AMBER activation is not to be used for runaways, most child custody disputes, or missing children. An AMBER activation is appropriate only for child abduction committed by a stranger, or by a parent if there is strong evidence that the parent intends to cause imminent bodily harm to the child.
3. After receiving a report of a child abduction, the investigating agency determines if the incident meets the requirements of the AMBER Plan. If it does, the agency contacts the Maine State Police (MSP) to request activation of the AMBER Plan. MSP then activates an AMBER Alert through the statewide Emergency Alert System (EAS).
4. When the Maine State Police activates the system through the state EAS, it will immediately be delivered to all participating radio and television stations and cable TV systems in Maine.
Although the AMBER Alert goes out only once via the State EAS system, participating stations should then announce the information every half hour for the first four hours, then one time per hour for the next four hours.
In addition to activating the EAS, the Maine State Police will distribute all pertinent information relating to the abduction via e-mail through the State of Maine Citizen Alert system.
Maine Amber Alert History
State Police and the Maine Association of Broadcasters began the Amber Alert program in 2002. Since that time it has been enacted twice, in 2009 and again in 2016. In November of 2009, a Sanford man abducted his two year old daughter after he assaulted the child’s mother. Father and daughter were located along a NH woods road the following day in the father’s vehicle and taken into custody by a hunter, who was aware of the Amber Alert. In October of 2016, a three year old was unaccounted along with its caregivers in Augusta. The child was taken to the Augusta Police Department within hours after the Amber Alert was activated. Both children were unharmed.
Silver Alerts are issued when a confused adult with dementia or developmental disabilities is missing. Silver Alerts have been issued in Maine since 2010 and dozens of the alerts have been issued since that time. The alert’s requirements call for the local law enforcement agency to issue the alert with a description of the missing person, a photo and information on a vehicle (if involved). The local agency will also contact the Maine Department of Public Safety’s Communications center to assist in getting the information out to the news media, the Maine Lottery Commission and the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority. The main difference between an Amber Alert and a Silver Alert, is that a Silver Alert does not involve the state’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) and thus, radio and television broadcasting are not interrupted with an EAS alert.