A Rant about Operation Amber Alerts – Now on the Internet and Smartphones

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  • A Rant about Operation Amber Alerts – Now on the Internet and Smartphones

Yes, you read that right. A rant about Operation Amber and their alerts. Which now go out over the Internet in addition to lighting up signs on the highway. The vast majority of Operation Amber alerts are not about “stolen” children at all, but about custody disputes. This reduces the effectiveness of both the Operation Amber Alerts and the resources used to find these “stolen” children. If anybody can have an Amber Alert issued over a custody or visitation dispute, what happens to the alerts and resources needed for children who are truly victim to a non-family abduction?

This is a rant which has been a long time in coming. That’s because I see it nearly every day. You see, I subscribe to the Operation Amber Alert mailing list, and so I see each and every one of their Amber Alerts which go out.

That’s pretty amazing to think about, isn’t it? That there are Amber Alerts every single day. And that’s the issue. And that’s what this rant is about.

Perhaps even the average citizen could notice it, but having professional expertise in the area, I am particularly – painfully – aware of it.

The vast majority – and I do mean the vast majority – of “abductions” being announced by Amber Alerts aren’t even “abductions” at all. Not in the sense that most people think. Heck, not in the sense that most people assume when they see those Amber Alerts.

 

No.

The vast vast majority of Amber Alerts are about..wait for it… custody and visitation. And the children are in no danger whatsoever, at all.

Yep. Another example of a custodial parent working the system to their advantage, and making the non-custodial parent out to be a lowlife goodfornothing..in this case..criminal child abductor.

And another example of some power-grabbing custodial parent deflecting resources away from children and families who really need them just because they can. Just to show the non-custodial parent who’s boss.

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As if they need to be shown that.

Don’t believe me? Sign up for the Operation Amber alerts. Look at the full text of each one. Notice how often the “suspect” is known, not a stranger, and how the last name of the “suspect” and the child are the same. [You can sign up here] NOTE: This link no longer works because the government has taken over the Amber Alert system, and now issues alerts directly to smartphones, automatically, through the [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead].

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A Rant about Operation Amber Alerts – Now on the Internet and Smartphones

Still don’t believe me? Check out this “not an Amber Alert” from an Amber Alert website – in a rare case where the police actually declined to issue an Amber Alert for a domestic dispute (way to go, Mountain View, California), Operation Amber took the police department to task, and posted a web alert anyways:

Amber Alert Denied For International Kidnapping By A Father

Americas Amber Alert News Center (California USA NA) TAA — Mountain View police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 3-year-old boy believed to have been abducted by his father.

Salvador Garrido called the boy’s mother telling her he would not be returning the child to her Sunday as promised. He said he was in Mexico or on his way there with the boy, Gianmarco Garrido.

Gianmarco had been visiting with his father since Saturday with the permission of the mother, who has full legal custody of the child. Amber Alert was denied due to the lack of danger believed to exist by the Police.

This appears to be interference with child custody and international parental kidnapping. This should warrant Amber Alert due to the fact the father is about to endanger the child by making an illegal crossing into Mexico.

Crossing the border is considered a hazard event to adults by both governments. Allowing the father to not get DOT signs while he evades capture is wrong and violated the childs human rights. Gianmarco and his father may be traveling in a car similar to a black ’93 or ’94 Nissan two-door 280Z or 300.

Gianmarco is 3 years old, 3 feet tall and weighs about 30 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Salvador Garrido, who also goes by Sanchez or Marin, is 30 years old, stands 5 feet 5 inches, weighs 140 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.

Mountain View police turned the case over to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office this morning. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Salvador Garrido and his son is asked to contact Mountain View police at (650) 093-6395 or Deputy DA Julianne Sylva at (408) 792-2523.”

Oh puhlease. It’s a custody dispute. Yes, the father shouldn’t have taken the child out of the states. But the child is not with some stranger who has taken the child for evil purposes. The child isn’t even with someone who has taken them for evil purposes at all. The child is with..wait for it…

…one of their parents.

The vast majority of child “abductions” are, in fact, simply custody disputes. They belong in the courts. Not using up the resources and detracting attention away from, and desensitizing people to the plight of, those who really need them – children whom are in fact abducted by strangers or others who pose a serious threat. Though relatively rare, it is these children for whom an Amber Alert should be issued, not those who are with one of their parents who decided to keep them a little too long during their visitation, or who are challenging the custody of the other parent.

  
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A Rant about Operation Amber Alerts – Now on the Internet and Smartphones

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  • A Rant about Operation Amber Alerts – Now on the Internet and Smartphones

25 Replies to “A Rant about Operation Amber Alerts – Now on the Internet and Smartphones”

  1. want to reduce the false Amber Alerts? America needs to uncover the cause. Which, is the regulation of parental right imposed on us that violate our right of being a parent and involved in our children’s life. We need to hold the family court accountable for protecting the parental rights and our children.

  2. Well how about this:

    It is a fine example of how the Alert can be used by the state to take children
    away from their loving non-violent parents.
    It is a sad day in America when freedom is violated so.

  3. I believe if you’re going to gripe about it, why not spend a bit of time and research it. Provide some numbers, not just an opinion. I would think you could go to their site, find out how many times the alert has been mis-used and post some real data. If you aren’t willing to put at least that much time into it, then unsubscribe from the alert. Your complaints, without any real data, could actually hurt a system that is needed.

  4. So what does any of this have with “Spam, spyware, spoofing, security breaches, and other Internet nasties” to do?

    It’s a shame that an otherwise relevant blog is 30-60% tangential and outright off-topic posts.

  5. There should be more than just Amber alerts for missing children. How about RED alerts for drunk drivers?

  6. If out of 9,999 Amber Alerts, 95 were actual abduction cases. Whatever, afterwhile, information overload sets in and people start ignoring the whole thing. The same way advertising gets wholesale ignored because as there is more of it, our minds start to tune it out as a background distraction from getting the normal day-to-day stuff done.

  7. You complain about that. How about the missing 5 yr old girl in Chicago, kidnapped by a stranger from her school. Chicago Police Department won’t issue an Amber alert due to the fact that they have no information on the kidnapper. That would something to complain about. Please think before you start complaining.

  8. I agree with Aunty. Someone above said that if you save 1 child’s life out of a hundred alerts then it’s all worth it. I doubt seriously any of the other parents, who’s child may have been saved had the resources not been spread so thin, would agree.

    1. Except the many false Amber Alerts actually do harm to the fathers and the children they’re trying to get their fair share of time with. You think any subsequent courtroom disagreements aren’t going to skew in the mom’s favor by default if years ago she reported the father as a kidnapper, and cavalierly told the police he is “very unstable and dangerous” so the alert would get pushed through? You think that kind of thing is just going to disappear in a father’s life and never come up at work, with childcare, etc? Your logic is kinda like shooting up a mall and figuring “well, if even one of those victims was a child molester, it was all worth it!”

  9. Yea!! well I read on news last night where a Father forced a babysitter to give him his 9 month old—then go on a ride with police after him then shot the infant 3 times and shot himself….over visitation rights….according to AP…but that is just 1 case,and is not just “Fathers” either that do these things……sure there are plenty of times that it is just a custody thing and other BS….but then there are times that the CHILD IS IN REAL DANGER from 1 or the other parent……….

  10. Auntie, do you have something against the parent who has custody?

    >>…The vast vast majority of Amber Alerts are about..wait for it… custody and visitation. And the children are in no danger whatsoever, at all.
    Yep. Another example of a custodial parent working the system to their advantage, and making the non-custodial parent out to be a lowlife goodfornothing..in this case..criminal child abductor.
    And another example of some power-grabbing custodial parent deflecting resources away from children and families who really need them just because they can. Just to show the non-custodial parent who’s boss.

    As if they need to be shown that…<< I was nodding my head in agreement with your basic premise until I got to the part I quoted. Speaking only from my POV (my son is 26 and my ex still owes me $16,000) I wish the courts would have shown the 'lowlife goodfornothing' deadbeat who was 'boss'. The non-custody parent should take pride in paying their child support and should receive a credit for it on their income tax return. Let law enforcement choose to make it an Amber Alert or not. Ranter- I sure hope you keep your comments about your ex to yourself and unshared with your child(ren). You might want to talk to a professional about your feelings of helplessness.

  11. This is a Catch 22 however, the comment made by a previous statement stated the obvious. “If 999 Alerts were made and 998 were ‘true’ custody issues yet one child was saved it was worth it. I talked to a DFACS worker and a sheriff about an “abuse” issue and it warranted the same thought. Maybe 1 out of 250 is legit but isn’t it worth the effort to save the one child who is literally in serious trouble. I don’t like the wasted time but for the child’s sake we must do what we must do; without the second guessing.

  12. Just ask any parent who has recovered an abducted or kidnapped child, and they will tell you it is worth every dollar, any inconvenience, and all the annoyed non-custodial parent false alarms for the safe return of their loved one. But, at what price to everyone? We are NOT a global village. We should care and be compassionate and willing to assist those in need.
    It is unfortunate that so many of Auntie’s respondents have such a narrow perception of their world. I doff my hat and understand the plight of Jason Franklin. I agree with Ted Shutes opinion of children being used as pawns for promotional gains of others. Unfortunately, it seems that the loudest mouths are attached to the smallest minds. I am sure Tom does not realize I am referring to him.
    In the past 30 years, I have needed to call upon the “services” of the Police Department four times. This may sound like a joke, or an exaggeration. I assure you it is not. The only two ways police service could be any worse for me, is if I had to write the report myself, or if the cops were the criminals.
    Tom believes the police service deciding when to issue an alert is a good thing. He not only missed Auntie’s point, which was The premise of the Amber Alert is good, when it is properly used as a tool for the recovery of children who are in immediate danger. This does not mean any body that can’t qualify for a real job, and becomes a cop, should be able to run around crying “The sky is falling”. That only serves to dilute the importance of the service. Amber Alert was not founded on the hopes of a 1 in a thousand success rate. If properly administered, I believe it could be in the high double digit percentage.
    Well said and done, Aunty.

  13. Just ask any parent who has recovered an abducted or kidnapped child, and they will tell you it is worth every dollar, any inconvenience, and all the annoyed non-custodial parent false alarms for the safe return of their loved one. But, at what price to everyone? We are NOT a global village. We should care and be compassionate and willing to assist those in need.
    It is unfortunate that so many of Auntie’s respondents have such a narrow perception of their world. I doff my hat and understand the plight of Jason Franklin. I agree with Ted Shutes opinion of children being used as pawns for promotional gains of others. Unfortunately, it seems that the loudest mouths are attached to the smallest minds. I am sure Tom does not realize I am referring to him.
    In the past 30 years, I have needed to call upon the “services” of the Police Department four times. This may sound like a joke, or an exaggeration. I assure you it is not. The only two ways police service could be any worse for me, is if I had to write the report myself, or if the cops were the criminals.
    Tom believes the police service deciding when to issue an alert is a good thing. He not only missed Auntie’s point, which was The premise of the Amber Alert is good, when it is properly used as a tool for the recovery of children who are in immediate danger. This does not mean any body that can’t qualify for a real job, and becomes a cop, should be able to run around crying “The sky is falling”. That only serves to dilute the importance of the service. Amber Alert was not founded on the hopes of a 1 in a thousand success rate. If properly administered, I believe it could be in the high double digit percentage.
    Well said and done, Aunty.

  14. First of all I’d like to address the posters with the matricentric (to coin a word) attitude about child custody,talking about “fathers” abducting children. I am a CUSTODIAL father,my children have not seen their biological mother in over 18 months, and i resent the attitude that some people seem to be showing in their ignorance of child custody situations.More and more fathers are winning primary placement of children in custody battles,as well as getting child support orders in their favor. In my case I’m suppose to recieve $280 a month from my x-wife (note the “suppose”),she’s 6 YEARS behind and the most I’ve ever recieved was a $90 check.As of last month she was over 10 grand in the hole, now if she had custody and I owed that much in my home state i would have been convicted of felony non-support and be serving prison time.I can only hope the double standards will balance out before my sons might ever have to worry about being taken for the ride I have by the courts and child support should they “heaven forbid” ever find themselves in my shoes.

  15. You tell them! There are way too many alerts. Our local cable company blasts an extremely loud warning (causing you to jump in your seat from being so startled) on every channel, with the same alarming, screeching sound they use for a severe weather alert. After so many of these terrifying interruptions which turn out to be Amber Alerts, rather than weather-related, we tend to ignore them. Like the little boy that cried wolf. Ignore them? Yes, when they have them all of the time and mostly, they turn out to be “misunderstandings” between the parents or relatives. Alerts should be for legitimate bulletins only (i.e. criminal abductions). Since Charter uses the same overly-loud warning tone for weather alerts, somebody who’s gotten into the habit of ignoring the Amber Alerts will get blown away by a tornado instead! Totally overused. And the cable company needs to differentiate the two tones, as well.

    Now, about those bad parents. The laws need to be made much more stricter AND enforced. The states must be more active in punishing deadbeats and retrieving back-support due. And a parent who openly does drugs in front of their children should lose all future visitation until the court determines otherwise. But that’s not how it works. The judges won’t do a thing about it, nor will they take more steps to garnish wages. They continue to force the children to see the parent during every assigned visitation, even though the kids don’t want to go and have told the judges about this environment. And it’s really sad that police have to be involved – called to tell the kids they HAVE to visit per the court order. The only involvement police should ever have regarding custody issues is arresting the deadbeat for not paying support. The parent rarely pays support, even though they’re employed, yet the state claims they’re unable to verify employment. That’s it – nothing else is done and the kids come home to poverty as usual.

    What’s all this have to do with Amber Alerts? Everything, because these are some of the things that lead to Alerts. Fighting parents and a severely inadequate court system are the root. It’s not the police department’s job to “fix” these problems; it’s the state’s job and they are pathetic. When the lawmakers, judges and lawyers start caring about children’s welfare, maybe the excessive alerts will be better controlled.

  16. Ok, I can see your point, and for the most part, I agree. But what about the murder/suicide scenario? A parent is distraught over having lost custody of their child, and was already in bad shape the marriage problems, so they take the child. Then, a little while later, while deperately realizing the whole thing is pointless, the unstable parent kills the child out of the “If I can’t have her/him, nobody can” and then him or her self. As crazy as it sounds, it has happened many times.

  17. I agree in part with what you said about the Amber Alert System being faulty. I agree that if child custody is being disputed the matter belongs in a courtroom not on an Amber Alert notifyer. And if the child is being taken from one state to another state that is an abduction but it does not warrent a full blown Amber Alert. But when a child is being taken from one COUNTRY to another COUNTRY ie: Mexico, I feel that does warrent an Amber Alert because it is far more difficult to regain custody from Mexcio then it is from say Nevada or Arizona. Corruption is just not a problem in Mexcio it is a way of life. You can truely get lost in Mexcio and a child would just be one of many. Plus there is a bigger danger of abduction into the slave trade once the child is in Mexcio. I have very real fears when my 25 year old daughter goes down to Mexcio with her friends I can’t imagine how I would feel if my husband took our 6 year old.

  18. But in a number of cases these children are in danger from the abducting parent. It is impossible for the authorities to quickly make the determination of whether or not it is so in any particular case. Better that 10 unnecessarly alerts be issued than one child be killed or injured. Most Amber Alerts receive only regional publicity on TV. If you don’t want to see all these alerts, don’t subscribe to the alert list, just watch your TV to see the ones in your area.

  19. As gently as I can to spare Aunty any pain, but instead of ranting, why don’t you just unsubscribe to the alerts? If you don’t like what you see, don’t look:-)

  20. I guess you need to watch the news and tv show like Cops. Fathers are taking their kids and when they don’t get their way, death and suicide often results. I have friends who haven’t gotten their kids back from fathers who took them (Illigaly) to Turkey 5 years ago.

    1. You know what the word “often” means, right? What you’re describing is unbelievably rare. Know what’s not rare? Bitter ex-wives/girlfriends slandering their children’s fathers so they can get what they want (revenge, more child support, or a combination). I have never met or heard of a man taking & killing his own child, except on some rare national news report or on Law & Order (which too many buffoons seem to mistake for real headlines). I can give you three examples of moms slandering their exes just on my street, and countless more from throughout my life. I guess you need to get off TV and look around you.

  21. Almost as if ya went’n stole me thoughts right outta me head.Congrats. At the rate it’s going,people will certain start to be simply Ho-Hum and not bother anymore.And THAT would be a travesty.

  22. You’re probably going to get a lot of comments/email about this (and I’d wager a fair proportion of it telling you (politely I’m sure :-D) you’re wrong) but I’d like to be one of the first to comment here and say congratulations, WELL SAID!!!

    Although I’m not in the U.S. I know of the Amber Alerts, and find it depressing that, as you so rightly state, the *real* cases are being effectively drowned out by the mass of “simple” custody battle cases.

    Just my €0.02!

    John (in Portugal).

  23. You are right. You have noticed the tip of an iceberg, a mindset in America today thay has promoted children from “important” all the way to “worship objects,” a perverse, state-sponsored religion whereby everything is about Children. Want to divert millions of tax dollars to saving a few acres of woods? Call it a “habitat” and claim its loss will affect “Children.” Want to take away someone’s rights? Make them out to be a possible danger to “Children,” however vague the threat might be. In the case of Amber Alerts, how dare you suggest that anything in your day could possibly have more priority than tending to the needs of a Child? Pay attention, you infidel: “Nothing is more important than our Children.” Learn to use those words yourself. They will allow you to use Children as pawns to promote (or, at your choice, thwart) any cause or otherwise gain any control you want to exert.

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