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  Illinois State Police News Release   

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Illinois Enhances Amber Alert Program

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Press Release Date: May 13, 2015    || Archived February 5, 2016

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force today welcomed Alert GPS as a partner of its AMBER Alert notification system. For over a decade the Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force has worked to create new partnerships and strengthen its capabilities. With this in mind, the Task Force is pleased to announce the addition of Alert GPS’ enhanced notification platform. 

Alert GPS provides the alerting technology that allows the Illinois State Police to distribute the notification message in a much quicker and more efficient manner.  This free technology is utilized by other state AMBER Alert systems and can easily be shared across state lines.  

The Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, the Press Association, the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Lottery, and the National Weather Service to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases. The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child. 

On May 25, 1979, Etan Patz was only six years old when he disappeared on his way to school.  May 25th, the date of Etan’s disappearance, was designated as National Missing Children’s Awareness Day. This date is observed throughout the United States to raise awareness against the threat of child abduction and to educate families about ways to keep their children safe.     

The AMBER Alert System is named after nine year old AMBER Hagerman, who was abducted in 1996 while playing near her grandfather’s home in Arlington, Texas.  She was later found murdered.  In response to community concern, the Texas Association of Radio Managers, with the assistance of Texas’ local area law enforcement, created the first AMBER Plan.  All 50 States now have similar plans.

“As a partner in the Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force, the Illinois Tollway is committed to doing its part to assist in the search for and safe return of abducted children to their homes,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “We spread the word to 1.5 million daily drivers on the Tollway system via electronic message signs and reach out to thousands more through social media and the Internet whenever the need arises.”

The proof of the effectiveness of an AMBER Alert Broadcast is in the numbers. According to statistics compiled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, since its inception AMBER alerts have aided in the successful recovery of over 750 children nationally.

“The AMBER Alert system has repeatedly proven its value over time and shown that lives can be saved when everyone works together,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “When a child goes missing, time is critical. These enhancements are another positive step forward in making sure the response from law enforcement is as quick and efficient as possible.”

Nothing could be more devastating to a parent than finding out their child has been abducted.  Unfortunately, hundreds of children are abducted each year.  When this happens, having the ability to quickly respond is critical in helping law enforcement increase their odds of returning a child home safely. 

“When it comes to finding children, time is of the essence,” said Illinois AMBER Alert Coordinator Craig Burge.  “The faster we can release the alerting information to the public, the better chance we have of returning a child home safely.” 

Alert GPS, a leading innovator in safety wearables, apps and alerting platforms, is providing access to Law Enforcement Alerting Platform (LEAP) free of charge to Illinois AMBER Alert. LEAP is the most sophisticated safety alerting and mass-notification platform on the market, and is fully integrated with FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). 

This enhanced service delivers major efficiencies to the current Illinois AMBER Alert notification system.  It provides a quicker, more robust alerting technology that enables the issuance of AMBER alerts through a variety of sources including texts, emails, faxes, RSS feeds as well as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) - the same system utilized during severe weather emergencies to provide alerts to broadcasters and individual alerts to cell phones.  

“We are proud to have the state of Illinois join our collaborative effort to help bring kids home safely,” said Alan Baratz, CEO Alert GPS. “Our alerting and mass notification platform offers the quickest way to gather and disseminate information, and empowers businesses, individuals, and law enforcement to communicate and collaborate during critical incidents and threats, helping to potentially reduce response time from hours to minutes when it matters most.”  

Alert GPS partners with Textwire Technologies to provide mass texting capability, and fully subsidizes LEAP through its sales of safety products and services for businesses and consumers, enabling the company to offer LEAP free-of-charge to all states that want to participate. Illinois is the 10th state to use LEAP and the first state to utilize the direct alerting feature to the EAS and WEA systems. 

The Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force is a joint partnership between public and private agencies with the goal of managing the state AMBER Alert system. For more information about the AMBER Alert Task Force, or to find out how you can help, please visit their website at www.amberillinois.org.

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