What constitutes an 'Amber Alert'

Wednesday, May 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma does not issue an Amber Alert for every missing child. Certain things have to take place before police make that call.

The victim must be 15-years-old or younger, or have a physical or mental disability.

The kidnapping must be witnessed.

The child must be in danger.

And violence must be involved in causing the child to disappear.

To issue a proper alert you also need a description of victim, suspect and suspect's vehicle. But these guidelines are not hard and fast rules. In the case of Shawnda Cheney, there were no eyewitnesses to the kidnapping. But officers decided to issue an alert anyway based on other circumstances in the case. The guidelines are there to distinguish between missing children, children taken by parents, and children abducted by strangers.

Tulsa Police detective Randy Lawmaster says that way people won't be bombarded with hundreds of Amber Alerts. "Sometimes people hear a car alarm, take notice."

President Bush signed into law a national Amber Alert system last month.