Welcoming Remarks: National AMBER Alert and AMBER Alert in Indian Country Virtual Symposium
OJJDP Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones thanks law enforcement officers, AMBER Alert coordinators, state clearinghouse managers, and Child Abduction Response Team members who plays essential roles in finding missing and abducted children. She highlights the primary initiatives that OJJDP supports to respond to missing and exploited children — the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the AMBER Alert program. The Acting Administrator also discusses the 2018 Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, which provides additional resources to help tribes connect with their state and regional AMBER Alert plans.
Good morning. I’m Chyrl Jones, Acting Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, also known as OJJDP.
Amy Solomon, the National AMBER Alert Coordinator and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, is unable to join us today.
But she wanted me to extend her sincere appreciation, on behalf of the Department of Justice, for the work you do every day to safeguard the nation’s children.
Each one of you—law enforcement officers, AMBER Alert coordinators, state clearinghouse managers, and Child Abduction Response Team members—plays a vital role in reuniting missing and abducted children with their families and keeping hope alive for the families who are still searching.
Child protection is a top priority at OJJDP.
Our response to missing and exploited children centers around three primary initiatives: the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children—better known as NCMEC—and the AMBER Alert program.
The AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program is an essential component of our nation’s response to incidents of missing children.
The program offers a variety of training opportunities for law enforcement and child protection professionals in the United States and also in Canada and Mexico.
This support helps practitioners improve their investigative skills, increase collaboration, and develop best practices for recovering endangered and abducted children.
I’d like to say a big thank you to our long-time colleagues at Fox Valley Technical College.
These professionals oversee the implementation of the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program and the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Initiative.
They have done a great job putting together this symposium so I will keep my remarks brief so we can get started as soon as possible!
I am particularly excited about this year’s symposium. This is the first conference to include state and tribal AMBER Alert coordinators.
I hope that the symposium will be a productive forum for you to build relationships and exchange ideas.
The 2018 Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act was born out of the tragic abduction and murder of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike of the Navajo Nation in 2016.
The Act endeavors to bring increased law enforcement coordination and expanded resources to Indian Country to increase the likelihood that a child in danger will be recovered. Through our AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program, we are working with stakeholders from state and regional AMBER Alert programs, and representatives from tribal communities to help tribes develop or enhance their AMBER Alert plans.
The tribes are reviewing best practices for collaborating with the state or regional AMBER Alert program, examining the requirements for requesting that an AMBER Alert be issued, and developing the processes for requesting an alert for an abduction that takes place on tribal lands.
These actions will help ensure that there is minimal delay in issuing an AMBER Alert, if needed.
Later in the conference, you’ll hear from Ashlynne’s mother, Pamela Foster, about how necessary your work is and the impact it has on families.
Ms. Foster is a tireless advocate for missing and abduction children and their families. We are grateful to her for attending and addressing this symposium.
We’ve seen positive results since the passage of the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, but much more remains to be done to connect tribes with their state and regional AMBER Alert plans.
Our training and technical assistance providers at Fox Valley continue to conduct outreach to tribes to determine their current access to their state or regional plans. They also collect information about tribes’ barriers to access so these obstacles can be addressed.
You can learn more about the AMBER Alert in Indian Country initiative during this afternoon’s workshops.
The AMBER Alert program has come a long way since the early warning system to help find abducted children was established 25 years ago.
All 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia currently have AMBER Alert plans. As of July 5th of this year, 1,074 children have been recovered because of AMBER Alerts.
That number represents a lot of smiles that you’ve returned to the faces of people who couldn’t fathom ever smiling again when their child went missing or was abducted.
Your job is not easy, but it is a worthwhile one.
Thank you for your dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of our nation’s children.
You are the heroes they deserve.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.