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Oklahoma's Amber Alert program draws criticism

Kansas officials issued an Amber Alert for their state shortly after Kelsey Steltin made her 911 phone call early Tuesday morning.

Those officials then asked Oklahoma to do the same, but the state’s Amber Alert committee decided not to. That has one Oklahoma mother upset.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims explains why and has the state's response.

Rebecca DeMauro believes if the Amber Alert system had been around seven years ago, she would now be celebrating her daughter's 19th birthday, instead of still mourning Andi's abduction and murder. "Because there was a witness that saw the man that took her, had he known had an Amber Alert been issued we could have had a different outcome."

That hope fueled DeMauro's drive to see the Amber Alert system go nationwide. She even went to the White House to fight for legislation. And that's why she was so outraged, when she saw Oklahoma did not issue an Amber Alert for Kelsey Stelting. "We could have put the signs up. There is no reason why we could not. And they keep saying its criteria, its criteria. Well you know what, when a child's life is on the line, what does that mean to the parent?”

Kelsea Stelting's mother, Kelly Cox also criticized Oklahoma. "I think that for the people of Oklahoma, if that were the other side and if Kansas were to do that to an Oklahoma teen. I as a Kansas citizen, I would be upset."

Oklahoma officials stand by the decision made by the Amber Alert committee, which is a governor-appointed group of about a dozen law enforcement and broadcasters.

Karl Smith, who is on the committee, says the Department of Public Safety did contact local law enforcement about the possible abduction, so they could be on the look out. But he says Oklahoma wouldn't turn on the signs, because the kidnapping didn't happen here.

He says each state has a different Amber Alert criteria and Oklahoma has no agreements with Kansas or any other state to copy their alerts. But I compared Oklahoma's criteria to Kansas and they're almost identical.

Smith admitted had Kelsey Stelting been abducted in Oklahoma, an Amber Alert probably would have been issued.
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