Tulsa-Area Amber Alert Message Boards Have Apparent Glitch

Wednesday, August 21st 2013, 7:32 pm
By: News On 6

A Sand Springs homicide and kidnapping prompted an Amber Alert that lasted several hours overnight.

A key part of the alert is the system of message boards on highways across the state.

There are 48 of the message boards across Oklahoma.

They help spread the word when an Amber Alert is issued, but there seemed to have been a glitch in the system and some of the boards stayed blank late Wednesday and early Thursday.

8/21/2013 Related Story: Texas Authorities: Sand Springs Boy Safe; Father In Custody After Amber Alert

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety operate the signs together. ODOT handles traffic and weather, DPS takes care of Amber and Silver Alerts.

Tuesday night, when Robert Connor was accused of killing his mother and taking his 6-year-old, an Amber Alert was issued and a message with his description, as well as the car he was driving, was supposed to have been displayed on the message boards.

Only that didn't appear to happen on every sign.

Pictures taken 7:30 a.m. Wednesday along U.S. Highway 75 near Jenks didn't show. At 7:45 a.m., one in Sand also was blank. The Amber Alert was issued about 11 p.m. Tuesday and ended at 7:56 a.m.

The state's Amber Alert coordinator says he can't explain why those signs did not display a message.

He says a communications officer can tell when they've sent a message to the signs but they can't tell if a particular sign is actually displaying the message.

ODOT says it didn't even know there was a problem until 7:30 a.m. Once it learned the boards were not displaying the message, ODOT says it immediately put the message up on its own.

Here's another picture taken on Highway 75 just moments after ODOT activated the sign at 7:33 a.m.

The Amber Alert coordinator admits it's not a perfect system, but says both agencies are working together to make sure it doesn't happen again.