​Amber Alert

The AMBER Alert™ Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.

Did you receive an AMBER Alert on your phone?

As of January 1, 2013, AMBER Alerts™ will now be automatically sent through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program to millions of cell phone users. If you have a WEA-enabled phone, you are automatically enrolled for the three alerts: President, Imminent Threat and AMBER Alerts. The addition of AMBER Alerts to this notification system is a result of a partnership between CTIA and the wireless industry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Any questions or concerns on the AMBER Alert message received on your phone should be directed to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (1-800-843-5678), who manages the secondary distribution of AMBER Alerts.

For more information on the AMBER Alert Program, view the Frequently Asked Questions.

Washington State - Statewide Amber Plan


The Washington State Statewide Amber Plan is the result of a cooperative effort between the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Washington State Association of Broadcasters, Washington State Emergency Management Division, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Attorney General's Office, and the Washington State Patrol, among many others.

The statewide emergency alert system provides law enforcement agencies access to the on-air signals of broadcasting stations across the state during the critical minutes following an initial report, to local authorities, of suspicious circumstances involving a child's disappearance.

The intent of the Washington State Statewide Amber Plan is to disseminate accurate information statewide about the disappearance of a child as quickly as possible. The broadcasts will contain descriptive information that can readily identify the child and the abductor. Citizens with information that may lead to the recovery of the child will be directed to contact the reporting jurisdiction.


In January 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. A neighbor was able to provide details about the car and abductor to law enforcement officials, but no system was in place to get the information to local residents quickly. Amber's body was found four days later.

Amber's death drew the community together and "hoping to prevent a similar tragedy" they contacted local radio stations and asked that information about abducted children be broadcast immediately. From this community effort, the criteria and cooperation necessary for the Amber Plan was instituted.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide recognize time as one of the most crucial elements when a child is abducted. According to a 1997 study, 74 percent of the children who are abducted and later found murdered were killed within the first three hours after being taken.


Based on criteria from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and best practices developed by other states that have implemented this plan, the following process will be adhered to when a law enforcement agency requests statewide activation of the Washington State Statewide Amber Plan. The activating law enforcement agency will be responsible for the initial information and continually updating that information for broadcast. In addition, the activating law enforcement agency will be responsible for ensuring the cancellation process is followed at the appropriate time.

The Washington State Statewide Amber Plan is an additional avenue for law enforcement agencies to resolve an investigation of an abducted child. The overuse or inappropriate use of the Amber Plan will diminish its effectiveness. The following criteria will be strictly adhered to when the activation is requested by a law enforcement agency:

  • A child has been taken and the incident is reported to law enforcement.

  • The abducted child must be under 18 years of age.

  • Law enforcement must believe the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.

  • There must be enough descriptive information to believe a broadcast will assist in the recovery of the child.

Activation Procedure

  • The local law enforcement agency will compile the initial information and determine if the incident meets the criteria for a local Amber Alert and/or a statewide alert.

    NOTE: This plan is not intended to replace local Amber plans, but as a supplemental method of providing information to the public.

  • The supervisory officer will complete the Amber Alert Information Form and forward it to the WSP Communications Center in his/her area. This form must be faxed to the WSP Communications Center's fax number(s) listed in the "WSP District Telephone Numbers" listing in order to activate the Amber Alert. The local law enforcement agency initiating the alert request must also call and notify the WSP Communications Center in their area that the alert request form has been faxed.

  • WSP Communications will verify the information to be released and notify the Washington State Emergency Management Division (EMD); the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT); all law enforcement agencies via WSP ACCESS; and the other seven WSP Communications Centers.

  • The EMD will be responsible for notifying media through the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Utilizing the attached media release form will allow for the continuity of information provided to the public. Media outlets will obtain additional information through the activating law enforcement agency.

  • The DOT will utilize the roadway reader boards to provide information to the public within the limits of space and message duration. The DOT may also utilize highway advisory radio to provide the information.

Cancellation Procedure

  • Upon locating the child, or when the activation period has elapsed, the activating law enforcement agency will notify WSP Communications to cancel the Washington State Statewide Amber Alert via fax using the "Amber Alert Cancellation" form. Also, call the WSP Communications Center and notify them a cancellation form has been sent.

  • WSP Communications will notify the EMD to send a cancellation message and the DOT to discontinue the reader board alerts. Media outlets will receive the cancellation message through the EAS system as well as through the activating law enforcement agency.

  • WSP Communications will notify all law enforcement agencies via WSP ACCESS.

In each incidence where the Washington State Statewide Amber Plan is activated, a formal post-alert review will occur and the use of the plan will be evaluated for appropriateness.

  • It is recommended an Amber Plan Review Committee be formed by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) to review each Amber Plan activation. The committee should meet every six months, and it is further recommended its members include a representative from WASPC (at least one representative from the Sheriff's Association and one from the Police Chief's Association), Washington State Patrol, Emergency Management Division, Department of Transportation, and the Washington State Association of Broadcasters.

  • The law enforcement agency activating the statewide Amber Plan will be responsible for forwarding information to the WASPC Amber Plan Committee within 30 days, justifying the activation.

  • The review will consist of information utilized for the activation, any supplemental reports from the activating agency, and whatever pertinent information the law enforcement agency feels is necessary to justify the activation.

Law Enforcement Operating Procedure

  • After local law enforcement officials determine an abduction has occurred they should notify the WSP Communications Center serving their area and provide them with the key information. The abducted child must be under 18 years of age and in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. The WSP will confirm the accuracy of the information and contact the Emergency Management Division and the Department of Transportation.

  • As additional information presents itself, including photographs, the local law enforcement agency will disseminate the pertinent information to participating television and radio stations through their standard public information process. The affected law enforcement agency may also request the Washington State Patrol disseminate the information via their public information officer network.

    • Local law enforcement agencies should utilize their established procedures for providing information to the public. Utilizing their pre-established public information officer is one resource.

    • The Washington State Attorney General's Office HITS Unit (Homicide Information and Tracking System) "1-800-345-2793 or (206) 464-6286" may be contacted to disseminate electronic bulletins, including photographs, to law enforcement investigators and agencies statewide.

  • Broadcast media will be asked to broadcast public service announcements at least every 30 minutes for the first two hours and once every hour for the next 3 hours.

Recovery of Abducted Child

Upon closure of the child abduction case, immediately notify the WSP Communications Center to cancel the alert.