Rude awakening

Now and then the clock radio will go off and, depending on the mood, the snooze button will be reached after some fumbling in the dark. 

On Tuesday morning, something different happened.

Despite a few paws at the button, the noise carried on. It turns out the satellite receiver was left on overnight and the nagging buzzing sound was actually an Amber Alert. Playing in symphony almost, was a smartphone on the counter in the distance. This minor inconvenience had a purpose.

When deemed necessary, police services can commandeer digital services to provide notifications to the general public. Televisions or phones will offer up a warning about abductions and details that help the public identify the parties involved. 

In this most recent case, the boy was feared to have been abducted and taken on a bus from Sudbury to Toronto. Within a three-hour window the boy was reported found and safe. That was good news.

In the last few weeks, however, the deployment of Amber Alerts has been a hot topic. Many have decried the program, claiming lost sleep and inconvenience. In one case the child was found unharmed, while in another case the child was deceased before being found.

Amazingly, authorities were reporting on Tuesday morning that large numbers of people were calling 911 to complain about the alert waking them up. It’s a problem that occurs after every late night alert. 

In addition to showing an astonishing lack of compassion for the plight of the affected families, these complaints tie up vital resources that could be needed to respond to another emergency. 

These heartbreaking moments are when minutes feel like hours. Loved ones are upset and police attempt to assure them in their time of need, but the clock continues to tick, until its over. 

Without leads, or information to go on, very little can be done. And really, when dealing with these crazy scenarios, who knows where an abductor may go, hence the deployment of blanket communication.

To us, if an Amber Alert is warranted and meets the standard for issuance, the last thing the public should worry about is a little lost sleep or inconvenience. 

This isn’t to say that efforts shouldn’t be made to refine the system. Any worthwhile program is subject to tweaks to make it work better or more efficiently. 

For now, the emergency alert system is the best system we have. When tragedy strikes, the system works, often with favourable results.

Despite the rude awakening Tuesday, it was a great day, because a child made it back home.