- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico State Police Department is working to change the way Amber Alerts are issued so officers have more control over what information is broadcast after a child is abducted.

State Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Armijo said the changes have been in the works for months and are not because of misinformation that was sent during an Amber Alert on Monday, according to The Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/1SD4Afr ).

“Within the last year we’ve had multiple Amber Alerts. And because of that, it’s caused us to evaluate our system and what we use and how we can make it most effective,” Armijo said.

Monday’s alert reported incorrect license plate information after a 9-month-old was abducted by her mom’s boyfriend, and then abandoned in an SUV that had been stolen. The information was quickly corrected and the child was found unharmed a few hours later.

State Police is responsible for handling all Amber Alerts for all law-enforcement agencies in the state. Under the current system, state agencies enter the alert into a federal database, which notifies the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The national nonprofit then issues the alert.

NCMEC Vice President Robert Lowery said that Monday’s error occurred because staffers at the center mixed up which state the stolen SUV’s license plate was from.

In the new Amber Alert system, State Police will use a federal alert system and send the alert themselves. Armijo said the new system may not be faster, but it will allow State Police to have more control over the information. It is unclear when the new system will be in place, but Armijo said it will be in the “near future.”

The NCMEC system will still be in place if needed. Lowery said his group will continue to work with State Police no matter what system they use.

“We consider State Police a partner,” he said. “Certainly how they run their system is their decision to make.”


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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