Differentiating Between Amber Alerts and Domestic Issues: Experts Weigh In
By Caitlin Alexander
Sunday's canceled Amber Alert is not the first instance of a possible custody issue spiraling into a larger search over the past few months."We get the call, we're relying on what information the individual's giving us to be truthful," said Tulsa Police Officer Leland Ashley.An Amber Alert went out Sunday for one-year-old Katori Smith. However, after investigation, police called off the alert. Police said it was possibly more of a custody issue than a criminal issue.A similar situation happened with three-year-old Kegan Manning in August. Authorities later said Manning's father had a verbal custody agreement with his mother. The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office canceled the alert.Ashley said police usually receive multiple calls each week, requesting Amber Alerts. However, there is certain criteria that needs to be met.The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said Amber Alerts require a child to have been abducted and for authorities to believe that child is in grave danger. "Each law enforcement officer, each Amber coordinator is placed in a very delicate balancing act trying to weigh overuse and abuse of the system versus the safety and welfare concerns of the child, and law enforcement always tips the scale at the safety and welfare concerns of the child," said Robert Hoever with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.Hoever said while one cannot quantify the cost of a child's life, Amber Alerts ultimately save taxpayers money. He said that is because of the quick response involved. Ashley said overnight and weekend emergencies could possibly mean a larger cost but agreed that calling off an Amber Alert is far better than allowing something bad to happen because an alert never went out.There can be penalties for filing a false report when it comes to Amber Alerts. Authorities are still investigating Sunday's incident.Hoever said Oklahoma is the first to institute its own statewide Amber Alert system. He said 672 children have been returned home safely because of Amber Alerts. He said Amber Alerts serve to involve the eyes and ears of the public.
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