Alert Program FAQs


What does AMBER stand for?

AMBER stands for America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response

Why was the AMBER Alert created?

The AMBER Alert Program was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special "alerts" over the airwaves so they could help prevent such incidents in the future. The next year local law enforcement and broadcasters created the AMBER Alert program in Amber Hagerman's honor. The AMBER Alert program, also known as America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response Plan, is a program in which broadcasters and transportation authority’s immediately distribute information about recent child abductions to the public, enabling the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child. What began as a local effort in Dallas, Texas, has grown into a seamless system of AMBER Alert programs across the country, each year saving the lives of abducted children.

Are national AMBER Alerts issued?

National AMBER Alerts are not issued, however AMBER Alerts may be issued in multiple states. If there is credible information a child is in or traveling to a particular state, then a request can be made to issue an Alert in that state.

What are the activation criteria for an AMBER Alert?

Four criteria must be met to activate an AMBER Alert. 1. The abducted child must be 17 years of age or younger; 2. The abducted child must be in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death; 3. There must be enough descriptive information available to believe a broadcast will assist or aid in the recovery; and 4. The Alert must be requested by a law enforcement agency.

Can a private citizen request an AMBER Alert?

No. Citizens who witness a child abduction should call 9-1-1 immediately to report the incident. Once the law enforcement agency determines the criteria have been met, they will contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to request an AMBER Alert.

Are law enforcement agencies required to activate an AMBER Alert for an abducted child?

The AMBER Alert is not mandatory. It is one of the many tools law enforcement may use to recover an abducted child.

What is law enforcement's role in the AMBER Alert Plan?

To expeditiously gather information about the abduction. In order for the Colorado AMBER Alert Plan to be activated, law enforcement must be satisfied the criteria have been met. The Investigating law enforcement agency will request an AMBER Alert Activation by contacting the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. They will also notify the CBI of critical updates, recovery and/or cancelations.

What is the media's role in an AMBER Alert?

When the CBI activates an AMBER Alert, a message is sent to KOA Radio, the primary Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcaster for Colorado. KOA forwards the Alert to all radio and news channels via EAS. The broadcasters then announce the AMBER Alert on their station. CBI also e-mails the Alert to the media.

How long does it take to complete the notification process and alert the public regarding an AMBER Alert?

Once all the information is received from the requesting law enforcement agency, it is disseminated within minutes.

How long has the AMBER Alert Program been in Colorado?

On April 1, 2002, Governor Bill Owens signed the Colorado AMBER Alert Program (House Bill 1083) into law. This bill mandates the Colorado Bureau of Investigation be the liaison among the requesting law enforcement agency and the broadcasters. Utilizing the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and partner organizations, specific information is broadcast to the public so citizens may assist in the search for the abducted child.

What can I do to help during an AMBER Alert?

If you witness a child abduction, call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement immediately. Be sure to note important information such as the physical description of the child and suspect; the make, model, license plate and direction of travel of any vehicles involved; and the location of the abduction. If you have not witnessed the abduction but believe you have seen the person or vehicle described in an active AMBER Alert, contact your local law enforcement agency or 9-1-1.


If you would like additional information or have questions about the Colorado Alert Programs, please contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at (303) 239-4211.

If you have information in regards to an alert posted on the website, please contact the originating agency or dial 9-1-1.

If you believe you have seen the person or vehicle described in an active AMBER Alert, contact your local law enforcement agency or 9-1-1.