May 19, 2016

Dear Colleagues, Fellow Chiefs of Police, and Sheriffs,

Our state has issued more Amber Alerts in recent months than were issued in many past years combined.  The recent tragedy involving an Amber Alert has reiterated the paramount importance of the law enforcement response and timely issuance of an Amber Alert.  The purpose of this letter is to assist all New Mexico law enforcement agencies in understanding the mandated Amber Alert protocol and providing a guide to effective response when the issuance of an Amber Alert is needed.

New Mexico state law delegates the New Mexico State Police as the authorized agency to issue a sanctioned Amber Alert.  Our review of multiple recent Amber Alerts in which the State Police was contacted by other agencies to disseminate the alert revealed several key areas in which I believe the law enforcement response could improve.  All agencies are able to benefit from a review of the alert protocol and procedures.

Attached you will find an Amber Alert response checklist for law enforcement and dispatch, along with a list of the criteria which must be met in order for an Amber Alert to be disseminated.  Of critical importance in this checklist is the time frame in which the New Mexico State Police is notified.  The NMSP should be notified immediately when an Amber Alert is needed. In addition, feel free to contact us if you have questions at the beginning of your investigative process.  We will assist you in determining if your particular event meets the prescribed criteria.

Also attached is the NMSP “Attachment A – Amber Alert Form” which should be entirely completed by the law enforcement agency handling the child abduction and sent to the NMSP public information officer.  The information contained in this form will assist us in ensuring all available details are disseminated.

Once our agency is notified, we must ensure all criteria is met, activate the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, and ensure the media is properly notified and given all available information.  It takes considerable time enough on our part (approximately a 40 minute process) to ensure the above is carried out, so it is crucial that NMSP be notified as quickly as possible in the early stages of the investigation.

The NMSP is also committed to assist in the issuance of a Missing/Endangered Person Alert, Silver Alert, and Brittany Alert.  Please contact your local State Police dispatch if any questions arise about the issuance of any of these alerts.  We are happy to be of service to your agency in disseminating any of the above alerts.

I encourage you and your agency to please review and examine the attached checklists and ensure your officers and dispatchers are acquainted with and efficient in following these protocols.

I am confident our partnership will produce a greater success together and in our outreach to those we serve.

Sincerely,
NMSP Chief Pete N. Kassetas

 

AMBER Alert is a cooperative agreement between New Mexico broadcasters and law enforcement. The New Mexico Broadcaster’s Association (NMBA) represents the broadcasters in this endeavor, and they were instrumental in bringing Amber Alert to New Mexico in 1999. The agreement allows law enforcement access to the state’s Emergency Alert System, or ‘EAS’. You may have recently heard tests of this system, either over the radio or on your television. If a law enforcement agency is investigating a child abduction, they can broadcast useful information over the EAS system, with the hope that the public may have seen the vehicle involved or the suspect, for example.

 

What are the criteria for an AMBER Alert?

  • There must be evidence of a non-family OR custodial abduction
  • Of a Child 17 years of age or less
  • There must be specific information concerning the abductor and/or child, which would prove useful to the public in hopes of recovering the child
  • There must be reason to believe the child is in imminent danger of bodily harm or death
  • AND the child must have already been entered in to NCIC as missing