Statewide child alert high priority
August 25, 2002
The abduction and same-day recovery of 10-year-old Nicole Taylor Timmons brought California’s Amber Alert system to the forefront of the national news and nearer the top of Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn’s list of things to do.
Guinn called for a similar statewide system in Nevada at the same time a proposal for a nationwide alert system was announced by U.S. Sens Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Dianne Feinstein of California.
Guinn spokesman Greg Bortolin said the governor and the Nevada Division of Emergency Management have been working to build a statewide network and have established a task force to bring together programs already under way in both Southern and Northern Nevada.
Northern Nevada has a system called Krystal, after 9-year-old Krystal Steadman, the South Lake Tahoe girl kidnapped, raped and murdered in March1999.
The morning after she was reported missing, her body was found down an embankment on Highway 50 a few miles west of Carson City. Her two abductors were caught — one is serving life in prison without parole, the other committed suicide in his jail cell after the first day of his trial.
“We have all along been working on a statewide emergency alert system. We’ve been working with both the Nevada Broadcasters Association and Emergency Management operations,” Bortolin said. “We want to get a statewide emergency alert system completed so we are able to communicate in both Las Vegas and Reno.”
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Bortolin said it will cost the state about $50,000 to connect the system through the statewide broadcasters association. He said the first step in connecting the Nevada system to a national system is to get the state’s system up and running.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Amber Plan was created in 1996 as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and brutally murdered.
“The tragedy shocked and outraged the community,” according to the center. “Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special ‘alerts’ over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the future.
“In response to the community’s concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law-enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that, when abducted, a child’s greatest enemy is time.”
In those instances when a child is kidnapped and murdered statistics show they are killed within three hours of the abduction. Most abductions are not reported until two hours have passed.
Washoe County’s Krystal Child Abduction Alert Plan was modeled after the Amber Plan.
Since it began in Texas, 17 states have developed a plan and 27 children have been rescued.
The Amber Plan is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases.
Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System, formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System, to air a description of the missing child and suspected abductor.
This is the same concept used during severe weather emergencies. The goal of the Amber Alert is to immediately gather community support to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.
In the case of Nicole Taylor Timmons, a motel operator in Hawthorne spotted the vehicle after seeing the alert on television and called authorities.
Nicole’s former baby sitter, 68-year-old Glenn Park, was arrested without incident and later extradited to California.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
— 114,600 attempted abductions of children by nonfamily members
— 4,600 nonfamily abductions are reported to law enforcement
— Two-thirds or more of abductions involve sexual assault
— There is typically over a two hour delay in making the initial missing child report (60 percent)
— 74 percent of the children murdered by nonfamily members are killed within the first three hours of their abduction
Forming an Amber Alert system
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