Arizona lawmakers urge Congress to extend AMBER Alert to tribal lands
PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman and the state’s attorney general urged lawmakers to pass a bill that would extend AMBER Alert, a child abduction alert system, to tribal lands.
In an op-ed for The Hill, U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich advocated for the passage of the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act.
If approved, the bill would include the 567 federally-recognized tribes as partners in the AMBER Alert system, the lawmakers said.
“Tribal lands can be geographically unique and challenging for law enforcement to patrol, making implementation of this program even more important,” the lawmakers said.
“No child – regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, or birthplace – should be outside the protection and jurisdiction of such a vital resource,” they added.
The bill reportedly has “tremendous support” in Arizona, the lawmakers argued.
Among the local groups that have spoken out in support of the bill include: The National Congress of American Indians, the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Navajo Nation, and the Hopi Tribe.
The bill also has federal support, most notably from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The AMBER Alert system was originated in 1996, after 9-year-old Amber Rene Hagerman was abducted while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas. Amber’s body was found four days later, less than five miles from where she went missing.
The system itself is an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, but is named after Amber.
AMBER Alerts are issued via radio stations, cable television, e-mail, electronic traffic signs, commercial billboards or text message by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio.
Some online companies, such as Google and Facebook, will also issue AMBER Alerts through their services.
Each individual police department makes the decision to issue an AMBER Alert.
The alerts include public information, such as the name and description of the child, a description of the suspected abductor, and a description and license plate number of the abductor’s vehicle.