For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Smith: (415) 901-0111
April 30, 2004 First Anniversary of National Amber Alert Program Recognized by the Polly Klaas FoundationThe National Amber Alert Program was signed into law by President Bush on April 30, 2003. On the one-year anniversary of this groundbreaking national program to find missing children, the Polly Klaas Foundation issued the following statement by their Director of Public Affairs, Jenni Thompson:
"One year ago today, President Bush signed into law one of the most important new protections for America's children. Thanks to years of hard work and commitment from child find organizations and bipartisan leadership in Congress, the National Amber Alert Program became a reality. This national program and the state Amber Alerts that are now in place all across the country, have helped bring 74 missing kids home this past year and 134 since the first use of Amber Alerts.
"When we launched our Amber Alert Now Campaign
in August of 2002, only 14 states had statewide Amber Alert programs. Now we have alerts in every state and a nationally coordinated network, allowing millions of people to be on the lookout for abductors and help police respond to sightings on a scale that would otherwise be impossible.
" The national Amber Alert program has made great progress in its first year. The program has trained the Amber Alert coordinators from each state and helped develop plans for alerts to be issued across state borders. At the first ever Amber Alert Technology Conference, state coordinators shared best practices for expanding their programs through Internet service providers and other distribution means. With each expansion and improvement of the system, we increase the chances that the next abducted child returns home safely.
"Law enforcement is also improving their use of Amber Alerts for children abducted by their own family members. In November of 2003, a 4-year from Illinois was abducted from his custodial grandmother by his biological parents, who had a history of child abuse. A week after the abduction, authorities had reason to believe the suspects and child were in California. The California Highway Patrol issued a statewide Amber Alert, which prompted the mother to turn herself in and return the child to safety.
"Our work, of course, is not over. We must remember that Amber Alerts are a relatively new tool, and their use will become more efficient and effective with experience. We strongly encourage Congress to continue to fully fund the national Amber Alert program so these vital improvements can continue to be discovered and implemented.
"At the Polly Klaas Foundation, we will do everything in our power to make the Amber Alert as effective as possible. We commend everyone who has made a commitment to making America safe for all children."
Jenni Thompson, Director of Public Affairs
Polly Klaas Foundation
707-447-5887About the Polly Klaas Foundation
Founded in 1993 following the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, the Polly Klaas Foundation is a national nonprofit that helps find missing children and prevents them from going missing in the first place. We promote public policies, educate the public, and provide families, law enforcement and communities with ongoing support and expertise to protect children. The foundation is headquartered in Petaluma, California. For more information, contact www.pollyklaas.org
or (800) 587-4357.
Marc Klaas is not associated with the Polly Klaas Foundation. You can contact his organization, KlaasKids Foundation For Children, at (415) 331-6867.