Illinois State Police statistics
indicate that the Amber Alert program was activated 15 times in
Illinois in 2003. This total compares to three activations in 2002.
All 15 alerts this year were resolved, and the Amber Alert program
is credited for recovering six of the abducted children.
"We must do everything we can to help
our law enforcement officials respond quickly when a child
disappears. We did that in 2003 by coordinating with the National
Weather Service and our state's broadcasters. We were able to take a
good program and make it even better," Blagojevich said.
Last spring, Blagojevich announced
changes in the state's Amber Alert program, which allowed law
enforcement to notify the media about a child abduction much faster
than before. The original system required police to notify the news
media via blast-fax. Under the improved plan, law enforcement
coordinates with the National Weather Service to use its Emergency
Alerts System -- the system used to send alerts the media when
hazardous weather is approaching -- to notify media outlets about
child abductions. As a result, the Amber Alert is immediately
transmitted to the news media, drastically reducing the response
Illinois State Police Director Larry
Trent said: "The improvements to Illinois' child-abduction alert
system are making a difference. The partnership with Illinois law
enforcement, Illinois broadcasters, National Weather Service and
others has made our communities more responsive and aware of
children in dangerous situations."
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Parents should still follow these tips
to help their children stay safe:
--Children should know their full name,
home phone number and how to use the telephone.
--Choose babysitters with care. Obtain
references from family, friends and neighbors. Once you have chosen
a caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are
doing. Ask your children about their experience with the caregiver,
and listen carefully to their responses.
--Interact regularly with your
neighbors. Tell your children whose homes they are allowed to visit.
--Don't drop your children off alone at
malls, movie theaters, video arcades or parks.
--Teach your children that adults
should not approach children for help or directions. Tell your
children that if they are approached by an adult, they should stay
alert because this may be a trick.
--Never leave children unattended in an
automobile. Children should never hitchhike or approach a car when
they don't know and trust the driver.
--Children should never go anywhere
with anyone without getting your permission first.
reminded the public that if they have a tip on the whereabouts of a
child, adult or vehicle that is the subject of an Amber Alert, they
should immediately call 9-1-1 or the telephone number given in the
Amber Alert and provide authorities with as much information as
from the governor's office]