When is an Amber Alert issued?

Rebecca Lewis, 4, was rescued safely in Memphis Monday after being reported missing Saturday. An Amber Alert that was issued in five states helped lead to the girl's recovery.

Tennessee, the state where Rebecca was found, was the last state to issue an alert and didn't initially do so because state officials said there was no evidence that Rebecca and her kidnapper were in Tennessee. 

So when is an Amber Alert issued?

The U.S. Justice Department issued guidelines to area law enforcement agencies about when they should issue an Amber Alert.

The guidelines are as follows:

1.       There is reasonable belief by law enforcement officials that an abduction has occurred.

2.       The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.

3.       There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement agencies to issue an Amber Alert to assist in the child’s recovery.

4.       The child is 17 years old or younger.

5.       The child's name and other critical data elements have been entered into the National Crime Information system.

Nearly 800 children had returned home safely with help of the AMBER Alert program from its inception in 1996 through 2014.

The name for the child abduction alert system is an acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The program was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered.

Read more about Amber Alerts here.

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