Tulsa Public Schools Reviewing Pick-Up Policy After This Week's Amber Alert

Tuesday, September 21st 2010, 6:34 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6  

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- The man who prompted an Amber Alert Monday when he took his daughter from school is being held in the Tulsa County jail on $70,000 bond for rape and assault complaints.

Authorities have been looking for Ambrose Martinez since July when investigators say he raped and beat his wife. Detectives say the couple's eight-year-old daughter witnessed the crimes and they feared her life was in danger when Martinez took her Tuesday.

Police found him in Catoosa and got a hold of the girl, but Martinez ran off. He ended up on a railroad bridge, ultimately falling into the water. Officers pulled him out, took him to the hospital, and then to jail.

9/20/2010 Related Story: Watch As Tulsa Rape Suspect Is Arrested After Falling Into Verdigris River

The situation is prompting a review of school security, specifically the pick-up policy at Tulsa Public Schools. The district might start checking identification of anyone picking up a child before the end of school.

It started with an outdated emergency contact list at McKinley Elementary School, a list the school district says the parent had not updated.

"We had information that was outdated in our emergency contact file," said Tami Marler, Tulsa Public Schools. "It's really important for parents to update that information and if they have a change in family situation that's something the school has to know about in order to protect children."

It was the school office staff who called Ambrose Martinez, a wanted man, to come pick up his daughter at school. Tulsa Police say he sent a friend to the school, with instructions to use a name that was on the list of people authorized to pick up the child.

"So it's a very odd situation because you don't expect someone to represent themselves as someone on the emergency contact card," Marler said.

It's a situation that could not have happened in some suburban school districts, which already check the ID of everyone entering the building. They check again when people are picking up children early.

"If I've got a picture ID and it doesn't match the name of someone on the list to pick up, that stops everything right there," said Officer Leland Ashley, Tulsa Police.

Tulsa Police say the man who picked up the child at McKinley will not be arrested.

"He was just helping the father out. His intent was not to do anything criminal," Officer Ashley said. "He cooperated with us when we located him. He gave us a great statement and all the information we needed."

Police say it was several hours into the situation before they got enough information from the mother to find the person who picked up the child - who told them where they could find her and her father.

The eight-year-old girl was not hurt. The District Attorney will decide what new charges Martinez may face once they review the police reports.