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AMBER Alert Criteria Changing In January: Expect To Get More Wireless Notifications

DETROIT (WWJ) - Michigan State Police are changing the criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert, the emergency response system that distributes information about a missing child.

Effective, January 1, 2017, AMBER Alerts will only be issued for cases of child abductions involving victims under the age of 18. Previously, AMBER Alerts were also authorized for missing children with severe mental or physical disabilities who wandered away and were unable to care for themselves.

"Any time a child goes missing, it's an urgent situation and we should all pay attention. However, in the case of child abductions the urgency is even greater," Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP, said in a statement. "By tightening the standards for issuing an AMBER Alert we will ensure these alerts are utilized in only the most dire of circumstances to get credible, useful information out to the public in order to bring abducted children home safely."

All AMBER Alerts will also receive a Wireless Emergency Alert. Previously, a vehicle license plate number was required for a wireless alert.

Missing child cases that don't meet the revised AMBER Alert criteria will be eligible for a new notification called an Endangered Missing Advisory, for which there is no age restriction. The Endangered Missing Advisory is a notice sent to media in the geographic area of the incident, but unlike an AMBER Alert, this advisory does not utilize the Emergency Alert System to interrupt broadcasting and it will not be sent to mobile devices as a wireless alert.

AMBER Alerts have helped police safely recover 262 missing Michigan children.

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