Some Manhattanites might have received an Amber Alert for 10-year-old Hailey Owens in Springfield, Mo., Tuesday night on their phones, but the communication system had an apparent glitch.
The girl was abducted near her home around 5 p.m., and an Amber Alert was sent to Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma around 9 p.m.
“Many times if there’s a stranger abduction and other states have an idea of direction of travel, they will send an Amber Alert to surrounding states,” said Agent Mark Malek of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
But the alert didn’t go to everyone.
“We’re looking into that,” Malek said. “We were getting some calls today indicating those alerts didn’t work in all areas. That’s something we are addressing today,” he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice Amber Alert website, as of Jan. 1, 2013, the alerts were supposed to be sent automatically through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program to millions of cell phone users via cell towers through text messaging and phone calls.
The Federal Communication Commission’s website said WEA is available on phones with the latest technology.
The participating wireless carriers were required to deploy WEA by April 7, 2012.
Personnel at the Amber Alert agency were not immediately available to say which carriers and which cell phone models provided the service.
“There’s no opting in or opting out,” Malek said about user choice for the alerts. “If that didn’t work, it maybe was that the company’s phones are not set up, or it may be a glitch in the system,” he said.
Robert Hoever, the director of special programs in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said that eight chilren have been rescued because of the WEA system.
He said 679 have been rescued because of the public’s participation in the Amber Alert system.