County Commissioner Calls For "The Amber Plan"

Tuesday, July 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A six-month-old baby's abduction Thursday evening is a prime example of why a Tulsa county commissioner wants to start something called the Amber Plan. It allows police and media to work together to find missing children quickly. KOTV Channel Six was the first Tulsa television station to fully commit to the program almost two weeks ago. Here's how the plan works in Texas and what it will take to get it going here.

The plan was developed in Dallas after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. When an abduction is confirmed, information on the case is immediately faxed to radio and television stations and put on the air. "The information regarding the child, information regarding the person who abducted the child, if there's a description of the vehicle, the time that it took place," said John Selph, Tulsa County commissioner. Information that the News on Six quickly broadcast Thursday when Cassie was missing. "The only advantage of the Amber plan or the Amber alert over Thursday night was it would be broadcast over the emergency broadcast system," said Corporal Liz Woollen, Tulsa Police Department.

Police say they will be very careful in choosing which cases to broadcast. Dallas police have two guidelines they use before sending out an Amber alert. First, the child has to be under the age of 15 or with proven mental or physical disabilities. Second, investigators must believe the child is in danger of serious physical harm or death. "In these kind of situations, you want to get information out as quickly as possible. Because obviously when it's a child involved you want, the safety of the child's imperative," said Woollen.

Woollen says stranger abductions are unusual in Tulsa. She only recalls two to three cases in the past five years, but says the community still needs to be prepared. Dallas has issued 23 Amber alerts and has helped recover five children. Police say those statistics are high in abduction cases.