Multi-state Amber Alert highlights program’s success

Posted at 11:44 PM, Oct 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-01 01:21:35-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) - Former Chesterfield Police Captain Steve Neal recalls years ago before Amber Alerts existed. He says finding children was a much more daunting and difficult task.

"If you had a photograph you were very lucky because it took time to send a photograph through the mail," Neal said.

Neal credits new tracking technology and more connected law enforcement agencies for the success.

According to the Department of Justice there were 158 amber alerts issued nationwide in 2011. According to statistics in 91 percent of those cases children were recovered within 72 hours of their disappearance. Neal claims the timing of the investigation is the most critical part.

"The longer the child is missing the greater the chance that something will go wrong," Neal said.

Figures also indicate that in about half of the successful recoveries in 2011 the suspect’s car was recognized by police in another jurisdiction and in the majority of the cases the victim was taken by someone they knew well, like a close family member.

Neal says again Wednesday the Amber Alert system proved its worth. A responding trooper described the child’s condition.

"The child seemed to be in excellent condition, playful and eating...just a joyful child," he said