AMBER Alert Program Overview

Amber Hagerman, of Arlington, Texas was nine years old when she was kidnapped and brutally murdered.  On January 13, 1996, Amber was riding her bicycle in the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store when a kidnapper threw Amber into his truck and drove away.  A neighbor, who had heard Amber’s screams, called police and provided investigators with the description of the suspect and the vehicle.  Four days later, Amber’s body was found in a ditch with her throat cut, only four miles from home.  The horrific kidnapping and murder of Amber Hagerman still remains unsolved to this date.

Outraged over this incident, concerned citizens contacted several Dallas area radio stations and urged them to broadcast future child abduction information repeatedly, in a similar format used for severe weather bulletins.  This idea was presented to the Associations of Radio Managers (ARM) of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, leading to the creation of the nation’s first AMBER program.  In honor of the tragic death of Amber Hagerman, the letters of her name were used to create the name of the program, America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.  Today, each state in the U.S., along with several countries have established AMBER programs within their communities, making Amber’s tragic death a lasting legacy in the battle against serious child abductions.

The Texas AMBER Alert Network (State Program) was established by Governor Rick Perry in August 2002 through Executive Order RP-16, later codified by the Legislature in early 2003.  The Texas Department of Public Safety manages the Network, comprised of several federal, state, local, public and private technologies.  The Program provides law enforcement a mechanism for rapid notification of the most serious child abduction cases to the media and the public.

The State Network has the ability to disseminate the AMBER Alert to any geographical area in Texas, based upon investigate recommendations.  Not all activations are considered “statewide”.  Once the Texas Department of Public Safety has confirmed that a request for activation of the State Network meets criteria, the State Operations Center (SOC) immediately notifies the following within the advisory area:

  • Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies;
  • Local primary media outlets;
  • National Weather Service;
  • Texas Department of Transportation;
  • Texas Lottery Commission;
  • Independent Bankers Association of Texas; and
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).