“Can you help me remember how to smile?…Make it somehow all seem worthwhile…How on earth did I get so jaded?.. Life’s mysteries seem so faded…I can go where no one else can go…I know what no one else knows…Here I am just drownin’ in the rain…with a ticket for a runaway train…”  Runaway Train- Soul Asylum

After a (now deleted..perhaps to protect the child?) post by the Howard County Police Department about a missing thirteen year old child from Wilde Lake Middle School, many in our community sprung into action to try to do what they could to help find the young lady.  There were reposts, prayers, questions, lookouts, etc.  Authentic concern for a child in our own backyard!

According to the police, the young lady returned home.  I don’t know the circumstances but it seems as if it could have been a runaway situation.  Someone even commented on one of the posts that “she has done this before…”

I don’t know if it’s because it is so close to home (my mom taught there for many years, my daughter’s cheer couch was the principal for three years, and I have several friends who have kids who attend the school) or what but this situation really bothered me.   This truly could have been anyone’s kid. Seriously.

On one of the posts, some friends and I asked why an Amber Alert wasn’t issued for this young lady.  Someone in law enforcement advised us that Amber Alerts are only used when a child has been abducted or is endangered.  We pushed a little more… Why wouldn’t we want to issue a broad alert for ANY child who is missing?  Aren’t they all in danger?  (That’s just how Amber Alerts work…)  One of my friends even said, in this particular case, the child is on medication, doesn’t that warrant an alert?  (No.)

So, because this makes no sense to me… (DISCLAIMER- This is NOT a bash on law enforcement at all.  Many of you know I worked very closely with the Howard County Police for many years and I have great respect for many police officers.  Sad that I have to give that disclaimer but you know how folks are….)…I needed to have a better understanding of Amber Alerts.

Sidenote- Google, I love you.

“An AMBER Alert or a Child Abduction Emergency is a child abduction alert system. It originated in the United States in 1996. AMBER is officially a backronym [that’s a new one] for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, but was named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.”

“In the United States, AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, Internet radio, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio (where they are termed “Child Abduction Emergency” or “Amber Alerts”). The alerts are also issued via e-mail, electronic traffic-condition signs, commercial electronic billboards, or through wireless device SMS text messages. AMBER Alert has also teamed up with Google ]Bing, and Facebook  to relay information regarding an AMBER Alert to an ever growing demographic…”

“To avoid both false alarms and having alerts ignored as a “wolf cry”, the criteria for issuing an alert are rather strict. Each state’s or province’s AMBER alert plan sets its own criteria for activation, meaning that there are differences between alerting agencies as to which incidents are considered to justify the use of the system. However, the U.S. Department of Justice issues the following “guidance”, which most states are said to “adhere closely to” (in the U.S.):

  1. Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place.
  2. The child must be at risk of serious injury or death.
  3. There must be sufficient descriptive information of child, captor, or captor’s vehicle to issue an alert.
  4. The child must be under 18 years of age.”                                                                     Source- Wikipedia (I know..but it’s quick.)

Ok.. Got it.  So we certainly can’t have an Amber Alert for suspected runaways or if the above criteria isn’t met.  We would be getting  alerts all day! Doesn’t make sense.

BUT.  Why can’t we have some sort of local alert when a child is missing. If the situation makes the Howard County Police Facebook page, then I’m assuming it’s a big enough deal to alert the community in a broader way. (Note- My friends who have kids in school at WLMS told me that the school didn’t alert parents or students.  I’m not trying to be funny but kids can find other kids in about ten minutes.)

Let’s utilize NotifyMe Howard.  Certainly alerts about missing children are just as important as weather updates and water main breaks, right?  Let’s utilize the text/email system through HCPSS.  Certainly alerts about missing children are just as important as school closings, right?  These two things are just a start.

This is Howard County folks.  We can be a model community on this.  Because any missing child is a priority, in my opinion.  We are a community of action oriented people.  Let’s work together to bring kids home safely…runaways or not.

I will be sending this to the county council, chief of police, superintendent, board of education, and board of education candidates.  If you support this idea, please repost this and send it to those folks as well.

And please invite me to the press conference when this gets changed. (smile)

Oh…A friend said let’s call it the CDR Alert.  Thanks but I think we should call it the Jaylen Alert.  And let’s tell that young lady (who this post is referencing) that she sparked a HUGE change in her community.

“And everything seems cut and dry…
day and night…
earth and sky…
somehow i just don’t believe it…”

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