What Is The Criteria For Issuing An AMBER Alert?

Police continue to search for clues in the case of a missing Ft. Worth woman and her seven year old boy.

To help locate the mother and son, authorities issued an AMBER alert, hoping the added police and media attention would help find them. Seven year old Jayden Underwood and his mom failed to show up Saturday for her own baby shower.

It's not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to receive hundreds of calls every year concerning missing kids. So, what is it about a particular case that triggers an amber alert?

"What makes an AMBER alert so special is the specifics regarding a particular case. There is certain criteria that this missing child has to meet in order to make an AMBER alert." says Keith Bickle with the Lufkin Police Department.

There are five criteria that must be met before an agency can issue an amber alert. First, the child must be seventeen years old or younger. Second, the agency has to believe the child was unwillingly taken from their environment without permission from the a parent or guardian, or if they are taken by a parent or guardian, they must have committed murder or attempted murder during the abduction.

Next, there needs to be reason to believe the victim is in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death. An investigation must have taken place to eliminate alternative explanations. And finally, is there enough information available to the public to assist in locating the child, suspect or vehicle used?

If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, an AMBER alert can not be issued.

"In our area very rarely do we have to resort to AMBER alerts. The primary reason is that we don't meet the criteria." says Bickle.

An executive order creating the AMBER alert network was signed by Governor Perry in 2002. It was created to honor the memory of nine year old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted while riding her bike in Arlington, and then murdered."

Once just in Texas, the idea quickly grew beyond the state lines. In 2003 President Bush signed the National AMBER plan to create a network around the country. Since the idea was first introduced back in 1997, AMBER alerts have helped in the safe return of more than 100 children.

As for the Underwoods, Lisa Underwood's SUV was found Monday morning in a creek near Ft. Worth.