ORILLIA – OPP officials say the province’s Amber Alert system was a great success in 2019.
Eight Amber Alerts were activated in 2019 in Ontario, including 12 abducted children. Of those, 11 of them were located safely and six out of the eight suspects were arrested.
All Amber Alerts were requested by municipal or regional police services and issued by the OPP, the authorized issuer in Ontario.
Amber Alerts are distributed through Canada’s emergency alerting system, Alert Ready. It was developed with many partners including federal, provincial and territorial government agencies, Pelmorex, the broadcasting industry and wireless service providers.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), requires all FM radio, AM radio, over-the air television stations, subscription-based broadcasting service providers and, as of April 2018, wireless service providers, to distribute the alerts.
Government officials developed a list of alerts that are considered a threat to life, including Amber Alerts.
“Once a child is abducted there is no way to determine the exact location the abductor is headed,” states an OPP press release. “It is important to alert the entire province, which is consistent with all other provinces in Canada.”
An Amber Alert on April 25 concluded at over 290km, while the Amber Alert on May 14 concluded at over 400km.
“Your child has been abducted. Those are words no parent ever wants to hear,” stated Inspector Angie McCollum of the OPP’s Community Safety Services.
“You may be sick to your stomach and feel helpless. I know as a parent, you want every possible set of eyes on the lookout in hopes for a safe return of your child.
“That is the purpose of the Amber Alert Program.”
In Ontario, the OPP issues just Amber Alerts; all other emergency alerts (e.g., tornados, hazardous substances, civil emergencies etc.) are issued by the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC).
Jan. 13 marked International Amber Alert Awareness Day, honouring the memory of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996.
The Amber Alert program is used in Canada, the U.S. and many other countries around the world.