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June 5, 2024 12 mins

Learn all about the saddest phone notification in today's episode. 

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Hey, I'm welcome to the short Stuff. I'm Josh, and
there's Chuck and Jerry sitting in for Dave, which makes
everything normal. That's right, Chuck. Yes, we're going to do
this like an old school stuff you should know episode.

Speaker 2 (00:18):
I have a feeling I know what's coming.

Speaker 1 (00:20):
Have you ever gotten an Amber Alert?

Speaker 2 (00:24):

Speaker 1 (00:24):
I have.

Speaker 2 (00:26):
There's nothing more sort of ear splitting and troublesome, immediately
troublesome and upsetting than getting that claxon Amber alert all
of a sudden at your nightstand, coming through your smartphone.

Speaker 1 (00:42):
Yeah. That's actually a little older than I thought. I
think those started in twenty twelve. Wireless emergency alert Yeah,
and yes you can turn them off. But if you
turn them off, you are shedding a slight amount of
your humanity perhaps, although there's a debate about whether they're
being over used or not. But one of the wireless

emergency alerts that you can get is an Amber alert. Specifically,
there's other ones we'll mention at the end of the episode,
but the Amber alert is like the OG and it
has a terrible tragic origin story to it. Amber actually
is an acronym for America's Missing Colon of all things
broadcast emergency response AMBER. But it's also the namesake of

a girl, I think a nine year old named Amber
Hagerman who lived in Arlington, Texas in nineteen ninety six.

Speaker 2 (01:33):
That's right, And we should probably tell you what an
AMBER alert is before we get into that sad story,
because if you're from abroad, you don't know that an
AMBER warning is when a child has gone missing and
they send out basically we'll see it's operated by the state,
but essentially almost always ends up being a nationwide alert

sent to highway billboards that are digital, sometimes lottery signs
that are digital and can be changed your cell phone,
on the television, and they just they get it out
in all these ways that hey, we're issuing this now
because you know, usually it's like this child is in
this kind of car and on a highway, and if

everyone keeps their eyes open, we may get lucky here
if everyone really pays attention for the next few hours.

Speaker 1 (02:26):
That was a great definition of the amburlers.

Speaker 2 (02:29):
Yeah, I mean I sort of went off on my
own thing, but I think everyone knows that the likelihood
of finding an abducted person or a missing person gets
less and less as time goes on. So those those
first that first hour is just so critical, even if
they can get out a warning that says there's a
Ford Taurus with this license plate and this kid is

in it, so keep your eyes.

Speaker 1 (02:51):
Peeled exactly all right, Well, thanks for setting me up
for telling the tragic story of Amber Hagerman, but I
kind of have to now. Yeah, back in January of
nineteen ninety six, Amber, who was, like I said, a
nine year old from Arlington, Texas, had gotten a bike
for Christmas and was riding it around near her grandmother's house.
And there was an abandoned wind Dixie grocery store the

parking lot of which she was riding around, riding her
bike around, and there was a local man, a seventy
eight year old man named Jimmy Kevell, who was watching
a ride her bike. And Jimmy Kevill apparently is the
lone witness to Amber's abduction. He said that a black
pickup truck showed up and a white or Hispanic man
in his twenties or thirties got out and took Amber

forcibly with him, and there was a nationwide search for Amber.
I'm not exactly sure what it was about. That case
that got everybody, but her disappearance launched a nationwide search
pre amber alert, and tragically, three i think three days later,
dog walker found her body in a creek. Because of

the need, it showed to coordinate to get the word
out at the Dallas Fort Worth Area Police Department's law
enforcement got together with the broadcasters from the area and said, hey,
let's figure out like a basic way to get the
word out for abducted children, like asap. Let's figure out
a standardized way to do that. And they came up
with the Amber alert. I think within ten months they

had the system up and running.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
Yeah, which is a great thing. Sadly, they it's a
case it remains unsolved, but let's take a break and
we can get back and talk a little bit about
the specifics of how they work right after this, all right,

So I mentioned that it was up to the state,
which is true. Every state has their own criteria for
issuing amber alerts and how it goes down. But the DOJ,
the Department of Justice, did issue guidelines about recommendations that
kind of break down into five categories for different reasons.
The first one is law enforcement has a reasonable belief

that a child was abducted. This one's pretty obvious on
what that means. The second one is law enforcement believes
the child will suffer serious bodily harm or worse. And
the reason they have these criteria is because there are
missing children all the time and not all of them.
In fact, very few of them get the actual Amber alert.

So this is to sort of qualify for that specific case.
And the bodily harm one is the need for just
a timely response that they have information where they believe,
you know, in a lot of times it could be
like a relative that has them that's very upset or
has made threats and things like that.

Speaker 1 (05:58):
Yeah, but I think the the crux or the underlying
gist of AMBER alerts is abduction by a stranger, because
that's the greatest danger typically that an abducted child can
be in. There's also a standard that most states have
adopted seventeen or younger. They're like, let's not put pronouncements
on what's a child or not. We can all just

basically agree anybody under eighteen as a child and if
they meet this criteria, then we're going to issue an
Amber alert. And then the last part is and this
is a step that not everybody takes, but it seems
very critical. You want to take that information that you
send out on the Amber alert and enter it in
the National Crime Information Center system, flag it as a

child abduction, and all of a sudden, the AMBER alert
will go from a local or a state or a
regional thing all the way out to national like nationwide.
Law enforcement all around the country will have an alert
that this kid has been abducted, so be on the
lookout for them. But not all states have that as
part of their criteria contingency plan, which is supper.

Speaker 2 (07:01):
Yeah, for sure, there was one we missed. The other
criteria is there's enough detail about the appearance and the
abduction of the child so they won't issue an Amber
alert if it's just like like I don't know what
my kid was wearing, I don't know where she last was.
I really have no information. They have to have pretty
concrete information about what the child was wearing at the time,

what they looked like at the time, and where they
might have been adducted, and especially if there's anything like
you know, it was a black pickup truck or it
was it was definitely my brother in law and this
is his car. And license plate number, and on the
seventeen and younger thing, because it's different states. Some states
may have a guideline that it's let's say fifteen, but

they agree to honor the rule of the state that
the abduction took place in.

Speaker 1 (07:51):
Yeah, if the amber alert makes it across state lines, yeah,
So there's I said that some people are are critical
of not necessarily Amber alerts, but just alerts in general.
Because if you're woken up at three am, whether it's
an Amber alert, a silver alert, which is used to
alert people of a missing person with dementia Alzheimer's purple alert,

is one for an adult with cognitive impairment who's going missing,
it's all the same to you. So there's a part
of issuing amber alerts. And one of the reasons why
the criteria is so strict is you don't want to
get people used to those alerts. You want it to
be a big deal when your phone goes off with
an Amber alert at three in the morning, that everybody

takes the time to wake up and look, that's that's crucial.
It's a crucial part of it because if everybody becomes
desensitized to it, that's a problem. On the other hand,
there are people who are like, there's a lot of
people who need to have their their the fact that
they're missing be alerted out to everybody that just don't

meet the criteria of the amberl alert. And so there's
other kinds of alerts. Someone's Everbridge alert, which is it's
cases where children have been targeted or abducted or gone missing,
but they don't meet the criteria of the Amber alert.
Like say, you know for a fact the child was

abducted and that they're probably in danger, but you don't have,
like you said, the description of what they were wearing
or what kind of car they were forced into, you
might not issue an Amber alert. And in fact, in
twenty twenty, there were three hundred and sixty five thousand
entries that year in the National Crime Information Center system

for missing kids, but two hundred of them met the
criteria for AMBER alerts to be issued. So there's a
weird balancing act that you have to go through that
I don't think anybody's figured out yet, But that's why
that criteria is supposed to be so rigidly adhered to.

Speaker 2 (09:55):
Yeah, and from what I've read, it's not like there's
any it's just about the alert, not like necessarily how
hard the cops may be working to try and find
this missing kid. It's just a very specific criteria because
I think when it meets that criteria, that means there's

a decent likelihood that if you act fast in the
next few hours, like I said at the very beginning,
then somebody might see something that could really help. Because
we have all this information, I feel like most of
the ones I've seen have been family members, which is interesting.
I had no idea that it was supposedly for stranger abduction,

but they've done a lot of good work. From nineteen
ninety six to twenty twenty three, Amber specifically Amber alerts
have contributed to the recovery of one and eighty six children,
and then other wireless emergency alerts rescued one hundred and
sixty five and over that that may not seem like

a high number over that period of time, but if
it's literally the success of a single signal being sent
out finding eleven hundred and eighty six children, that's amazing.

Speaker 1 (11:11):
Yeah. One of the stories I've seen bandied about by
pro Amber alert people just basically everybody that there was
like a kid who had an amber alert miss or
issued and was recovered within like less than thirty minutes
because of the amber alert. So it definitely does work.
I mean, if they're only issuing two hundred a year

and they in seven years they managed to cover almost
twelve hundred or thirteen hundred children, that's a pretty good
track record.

Speaker 2 (11:40):

Speaker 1 (11:41):
Yeah, for sure, you got anything else, I.

Speaker 2 (11:44):
Got nothing else. Keep that alert on. It's distressing. But
and if you're you know, if you're on the road
at the time and you see something like that, like
you do your part. That's what they're looking for, is
people to really keep their eyes peeled and be vigilant.

Speaker 1 (11:56):
Yeah, and if you're a state legislator, maybe take the
time to really sit there and see if your state
has too many or is issuing too many of these
things and is in danger of desensitizing the public because
you do not want to do that. And of course,
since I just spoke directly as state legislators, that means
short stuff is out.

Speaker 2 (12:17):
Stuff you should know is a production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts my Heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,

Speaker 1 (12:25):
Wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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