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Retailers' Guide to AMBER Alert

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AMBER Alert

In the fall of 2001, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) launched the AMBER Alert – America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response – nationwide. The goal of the program is to assist cities and towns across the U.S. with creating their own emergency alert plan.

The AMBER Alert was created in 1996 as a 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 that they could help prevent such incidents in the future.

In response for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Forth Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law enforcement agencies and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that, when abducted, a child’s greatest enemy is time.

Since the program was launched in Texas, there have been more than 60 modified versions created at local, regional, and state levels.

Missouri Plan - Missouri AMBER Alert

The Missouri Lottery AMBER Alert Communications Program is part of a statewide program that began in January 2003 and was designed by the Missouri Department of Public Safety to inform the public of the most serious child abduction cases. The Lottery partners with other state and organizations to communicated the Missouri AMBER Alert message. The Lottery uses its various communication channels to disseminate Missouri AMBER Alert messages to nearly 5,000 retailers and thousands of Lottery players.

Criteria for Alert

Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must determine if three criteria are met to activate a Missouri AMBER Alert. Those criteria are:

  • Law enforcement confirms that a child has been abducted;
  • Law enforcement believes the circumstances surrounding the abduction indicate that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death; and
  • There are sufficient details concerning the abduction to make a public alert useful.

Retailer Involvement

As Missouri Lottery retailers, you are in a unique position to spread the alert and help look for the missing child or suspect. In the event that you spot a child, adult, or vehicle fitting the Missouri AMBER Alert description, immediately call the telephone number given in the Missouri AMBER Alert message and provide authorities with as much information as you know. The Lottery will communicate information to you and the public through:

  • Retailer alerts (via sales terminals);
  • Sales terminals, VFD displays and monitors;
  • Player Numbers Game ticket messages;
  • Club Keno monitors;
  • The Lottery’s website; and
  • The Lottery’s e-newsletters.

Receiving a Missouri AMBER Alert Message

In the event of a Missouri AMBER Alert message, all online retailers will receive a “deferred” text message on their Lottery terminals instructing them to “take a message.” The message will contain brief details about the abduction. To access the message, push the report key, then option #12, or select the special function key and option #4.

A special “immediate” text message will be sent to retailers in the counties closest to the abduction. This message will suspend sales until the message is taken. After taking the message, a blank ticket will print. Retailers will not be charged for this ticket. When possible, information about the alert will also be printed on online tickets.

When you receive a Missouri AMBER Alert message, please communicate the message to as many of your customers as possible. You may print out this poster template, fill in appropriate alert information and display it at your retail location.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in this life-saving program!