Investigation Underway About Delay In Sending Out Amber Alert For 4-Month-Old Diore Thomas In East Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Four-month-old Diore Thomas is back with her mother tonight, and her father Giante Thomas is under arrest in connection with her alleged abduction yesterday.
But there are questions tonight about why it took several hours after the incident for an Amber Alert to be issued.
Five hours. That's how long it took for an Amber Alert to be issued. State police are reviewing the incident, but victims advocates say that's too long.
Police accuse the estranged father, Giante Thomas Jr., of abducting the four-month-old baby, Diore, after putting a gun to the head of her mother, Tamiyah Williams, and then fleeing in her car.
It's the kind of incident for which Amber Alerts are designed. Only this one took hours to be issued and advocates for victims of violent crimes say this isn't the first time.
"Every second counts for the parent of a child who is missing," said Laurie MacDonald with Center for Victims. "That short timeframe whether it's a half hour or six hours is a lifetime, and they need to have a quicker response."
According to police, Thomas abducted the child around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, but the Amber Alert did not go out until 5:45 that evening — more than five hours later. Today, state police in Harrisburg were conducting an internal review to determine the reason for that delay.
Police located and rescued Diore last night and arrested Thomas, but time is always of the essence in these situations, and Laurie McDonald of the Center for Victims says the alert process often drags on too long.
"And you think when you're going to have an amber alert issued for your child you think that going to happen quickly and it doesn't," MacDonald said.
According to the state police website, for an Amber Alert to be issued the child must be under 18 and believed to be in imminent danger. Other factors include availability of descriptive information, time elapsed since the child was seen and the reliability of witnesses.
But MacDonald is calling for the process to be reviewed.
"It's like so many things in law enforcement, the laws that we have. The intentions are good and the concept is excellent but does it work in reality? Not exactly," MacDonald said. "I think it should be streamlined. I'm not really sure why it is this way. I don't know why it takes this long."
Police have launched an investigation into this particular Amber Alert delay, which may result in some change.
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