– – – Faster Notification of Missing Children Now Possible
Manitoba law enforcement agencies and media outlets have joined together to use Facebook to get the word out as soon as a child goes missing, Justice Minister Andrew Swan and representatives of RCMP “D” Division, the Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service and other partner agencies announced today.
“When a child goes missing, we need to use every tool at our disposal, and social media can immediately reach thousands of Manitobans who can assist in the search,” said Swan. “The faster we get the word out that a child is missing, the better the chance that child can be found, and we are enthusiastic about the partnerships that have gotten us to this point.”
Manitoba issued its first Amber Alert in July 2010 at the request of police in Saskatchewan. The alert resulted in the safe recovery of an abducted child and the arrest of a suspect. This new partnership will enhance the program and make it easier to find an abducted child. There are currently six other provinces with an Amber Alert Facebook page.
“Having the public as our partner in this venture will spread eyes and ears all over the province,” said Chief Superintendent Scott Kolody, Acting Commanding Officer of RCMP “D” Division. “When an alert goes out it will expand the net of Manitobans who can help police locate a missing child.”
By adding Facebook to the method of public notification, authorities are hoping to get the news of an Amber Alert out faster and farther than ever before. The agencies want as many people as possible to subscribe or ‘like’ the Manitoba Amber Alert Facebook page so they will receive a notification as soon as it is sent out.
“There’s no question that time is of the essence when it comes to finding a missing child,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill. “Manitobans have shown that they care, and we know they want to help out, so we are confident that they will be there to help us if we need them.”
“This kind of notification will be a great help in smaller centres and to reach into rural Manitoba as well,” said Chief Keith Atkinson of the Brandon Police Service. “There’s just no better way to reach all over the province than to use social media as well as conventional media to quickly call for assistance.”
Manitoba also recognizes the ongoing support of partners like the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection for their work to help bring missing children home, as well as the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children for its financial support of the web design elements. Local media outlets have been very supportive through the Broadcasters Association of Manitoba and the program would not be as effective without their commitment to getting the message out.
An Amber Alert may be initiated in Manitoba if:
the missing person is under 18 or is an individual with a proven disability;
there is a confirmed abduction either by witnesses or supporting evidence;
police believe the victim is at risk of serious bodily harm or death;
there is enough descriptive information about the victim, the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle;
it can be issued in a timely enough fashion for the public to identify these elements and it is believed the suspect can be apprehended before fleeing.
When an Amber Alert has been issued, broadcast media will break into regular programming with an announcement of the alert. The alert starts with the Amber Alert tone and then follows with a description of the missing child as well as a description of the suspect and vehicle. The broadcast will be repeated at specific intervals for the duration of the alert. Television stations will also utilize a scrolling alert at the bottom of the screen.
Police advise if you see the victim, suspect or suspect’s vehicle, call 911. Under no circumstances should you try to approach the suspect or rescue the child.
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The Province of Manitoba is distributing this release on behalf of the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service and the Government of Manitoba.