Official Defends Early Morning AMBER Alert, Notes Cell Phone Alarms Are ‘Rarity’
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The system-wide AMBER Alert sent out just before 4 a.m. on Wednesday jarred many people out of bed.
The blaring alarm, sent at 3:51 a.m., left many wondering if the message was accidentally sent out too early, or whether it was needed at all.
“We apologize that people were woken up, but there’s also a lot of people that are on the road at that time in the morning,” Bob Hoever with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
The baby boy for whom the alert was issued has since been found safe.
The new cellular alert system launched in December.
When local police request an AMBER Alert, the center notifies the cell phone carriers.
“Within the range of the cell tower that’s been activated,” Hoever explained.
Devices made in 2011 and later are automatically set up to receive the messages.
Hover said there is some concern that people will turn off the alerts if they come in so early, but added the alerts are an important way to help track down abducted children.
“We don’t want to over-saturate the public, we don’t want to annoy the public,” Hoever told Silverman. “But the public needs to be aware this is a rarity.”
He added the alerts only go out when a child is in grave danger.
“There’s no way of predicting that person is sleeping as opposed to that person is on the road and we could utilize their eyes and ears,” said Hoever.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management, which has its own separate opt-in text and email notification system, did send a message when the AMBER Alert was first issued, but decided not to send one in the early morning hours when the license plate number was made available, a source told WCBS 880.
An AMBER Alert was issued for 7-month-old Mario Danner Jr. on Tuesday after police said he vanished from a supervised visit at a children’s services center.
The alert was canceled on Wednesday afternoon after the boy was found safe and his mother, 25-year-old Marina Lopez, was taken into custody.
She does not have custody of her son due to mental health issues, police said.
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