U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

AMBER Alert Field Guide for Law Enforcement Officers

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2019
37 pages
The purpose of this guide is to provide law enforcement officers with information that will enable them to avoid or mitigate critical "pitfalls" when working a child abduction case.
These "pitfalls" can result in delays in requesting an AMBER Alert because officers do not know whom to call or what critical information to provide for an effective alert. Officers are also advised that it is permissible to call the AMBER Alert Coordinator early in the case to discuss options for the alert, even while information is being collected in the investigation. Information in this guide was developed by subject-matter experts who have been active in AMBER Alert programs throughout the country. Guidance is provided for appropriate officer actions regarding various aspects of a case that warrants an AMBER Alert. For the initial on-scene response and investigation, the guide addresses decisions and actions pertinent to telecommunications and patrol first responders, the investigative response, missing child information, suspect information, the National Crime Information Center Database (NCIC) entry, and criteria for adding persons with information (PWI) in the case. A second major task addressed in the guide is the establishment of leads/tips call centers and leads management. Activities discussed are planning for call intake and leads management technologies, as well as staffing needs. Other tasks for which guidance is provided are the use of child abduction response teams, search and canvass operations, the use of volunteers, the family's perspective and officers' interaction with families, and the management of media inquiries and coverage.

Date Published: May 1, 2019