|WRAL Radio and Television Stations Help Find Missing Children|
After the frightening numbers of children who have come up missing over the past year, more and more state governments are adopting the “Amber Alert” emergency response plan. This system alerts local media when a child goes missing, and these media outlets get the word out on the airways immediately. WRAL-FM and WRAL-TV are already one step ahead of the game, implementing their own plans months ago.
Last June, the stations used their alert system to warn the public that 18-month-old, Jade Creech had gone missing with her baby sitter in Franklin County. Thanks to the alert, Creech was found within the three hours and returned safely to her parents.
North Carolina began a program in 2000 called NC CAN, North Carolina Child Alert Notification. The voluntary program runs in 15 counties, but budget woes have limited funding to spread the system. Currently, Wake and Durham counties are among those voluntarily participating.
When Creech went missing, NC CAN activated for the first time. Both WRAL-FM and WRAL-TV were contacted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and immediately broadcast the alert, naming the suspect, describing her vehicle and providing her license tag numbers. The stations ran the alert every fifteen minutes for three hours, until the child was found. The suspect, Teresa Odell, turned herself in after a friend heard the alert and contacted her via cell phone.
North Carolina General Assembly Rep. Michael Decker has introduced a bill in the House to make North Carolina the 19th state to issue “Amber Alerts.”
The Amber Alert plan is named for third-grader Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped in Arlington, Texas, in 1996, and turned up dead four days later.