Amber Alert Kicks Off

by Christa Lollis

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - At noon today several law enforcement agencies along with media throughout east Texas tested the new amber alert system for this area. "Ok, we're seeing the crawler on KTRE now so that's good," Danny Merrill with Gap Broadcasting said as the system began airing on television.

While the states system has been helping track down missing kids since 2001, this regional one will help find East Texas kids in a shorter time period. Lt. David Young with the Lufkin Police Department said, "If we have a kidnapped child we can just do the 8 counties affected by this program and get the word out maybe a little faster and to the area closest to us where we think the child may have been taken."

Today's first practice run, went smoothly with only a few minor kinks. Merrill says, "Sherry over at KSAU said they got the paper alert, the log alert but they did not get any audio."

On some radio stations the audio was low but overall organizers say the test proved the system works. "Response today was in less than 15 minutes so that's a pretty good response from the time of the fax to the time of the alert," Keith Bickley with the City of Lufkin said.

While the police department hasn't dealt with many kidnappings in this area, this regional system will make sure they are ready in case of an emergency. Young explains, "It's not a big problem in East Texas. We've only had one in the last 15 years that I can recall off hand but if you have one now you have to be prepared. You have to get the word out fast and this is just another tool to help us do our job more effectively."

The system will continue being tested until all the kinks are worked out.