What is the difference between an Amber Alert, Missing Child Alert?

Alert stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response

America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, or AMBER Alert, was created in 1996 as a response for local police to find abducted children, according to U.S. Department of Justice.

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Dorothy Scofield has been missing from Ocala, Florida, since July 22, 1976. She is now 53 years old.

The alert system, later named Amber, was created after Amber Hagerman, 9, was kidnapped while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas and later murdered.


Every state has different requirements for a state to issue an AMBER alert. In the state of Florida, there are five requirements.

  • The child must be under 18 years of age.
  • There must be a clear indication of an abduction.
  • The law enforcement agency's preliminary investigation must conclude that the child's life is in danger.
  • There must be a detailed description of child, abductor and/or vehicle to broadcast to the public.
  • The activation must be recommended by the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction.

For an AMBER alert to be activated, local law enforcement can call the FDLE Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse(MEPIC) at 1-888-356-4774.

A missing child alert is activated when the four of these criteria are met:

  • The child must be under 18 years of age.
  • The law enforcement agency’s preliminary investigation must conclude that the child’s life is in danger.
  • Descriptive information and a photograph of the child must be available.
  • The agency of jurisdiction must approve the issuance of the Missing Child Alert.

Florida's AMBER plan consists of radio, television, highway dynamic message signs, lottery machines, missingchildrenalert.com and other resources, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The plan was first instituted in the state nearly 17 years ago on Aug. 30, 2000. The introduction of highway dynamic message signs and lottery machines occurred in August 2002 and November 2002, respectively.