• The Southwestern

Origins & importance of Amber Alert system

Updated: Jun 18

Welcome to a four-part series on missing persons. This week I will discuss missing juveniles. Next week I will cover missing adults. Then will be missing senior citizens, followed by unidentified recovered missing persons.


Photos by Wix media

By Chief Kendra Brown

For The Southwestern


On February 10, 2020 in South Carolina, where I spent most of my time policing, Faith Swetlik, a beautiful six year old girl, went missing from her yard in Cayce, South Carolina. Faith had been seen playing in her yard an hour earlier. After an extensive three-day search, Faith’s little body was recovered, as well as the body of her 30 year old murderer. Many community members commented on the use of the Amber Alert system.


The Amber Alert system is a tool law enforcement across the United States can use to help locate a missing child, as long as certain criteria are involved. According to amberalert.ojp.gov, an Amber Alert may be issued when:


There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that abduction has occurred.


The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.


There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.


The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.


The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center system.


The criteria help avoid too many Amber Alerts being issued that may not meet the severity to be issued. Police have to make sure there was abduction, and the child simply didn’t wander off or get lost. The child has to be in serious danger. Many Amber Alerts involve an abusive ex-spouse taking a child after harming the child’s parent.


Another example to meet these criteria might be a medical need. If the child is in need of medication, has certain disabilities, etc. they meet the criteria. In addition, as much description about the child, the abductor, and the abductor’s vehicle is needed.


The more information broadcast, the more helpful this could be to the public and law enforcement potentially spotting the subjects. Amber Alerts are for juveniles, primarily defined as those less than seventeen years of age. After all information is gathered, police will enter the info into NCIC.


If you are curious about active Amber Alerts, you can click here to see the current ones on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/amber.

For any more information on Amber Alerts or anything we can help with, please don’t hesitate to call SWOSU police at 580-774-3111.

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