What is an Amber Alert? Warning issued for 1-year old Orlando-native Marcus Lyles who is believed to be taken by father’s girlfriend

Marcus Lyles was recovered safely on Sunday, May 8 (Image via OrangeCoSheriff/Twitter)
Marcus Lyles was recovered safely on Sunday, May 8 (Image via OrangeCoSheriff/Twitter)

A missing child from Orlando was found safe after authorities issued an Amber Alert. Marcus Lyles was reportedly abducted by his father's girlfriend on Saturday, May 7. They were tracked down, and the kid was safely recovered a day later.

The alert program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice has contributed to the recovery of around 1,111 children in the past 26 years.

What we know about the Amber Alert program

The Amber Alert system is an acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. It was created in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters decided to work with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. The program is named after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered. The idea has been adopted by numerous states and even by other countries.

It uses a web of communication channels and broadcast media to spread information. Important details about the abductor and the child are given to the general public via television, radio, highway signs, etc. These alerts can also proliferate with the use of lottery, digital billboards, internet ad exchanges, internet service providers, and internet search engines.

While an Amber Alert is a great way to fastrack the search for an abducted child, it cannot be used for every missing report. The case should be able to meet certain criteria. The guidelines were added to the alert system through the Protect Act, passed in 2003.

The reason for these guidelines is to provide tangible information regarding the child or the abductor and make sure the act is not overused. Overusing the alert can also desensitize the public towards it.

Here are the guidelines issued by the Department of Justice, taken from the Amber Alert website:

  • There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
  • The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
  • The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
  • The child's name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.

These criteria guidelines may differ depending on the state and country.

The child was taken away in a car

Marcus Lyles was in the car with his father's girlfriend. Kira Fae Lawson, 20, kidnapped Lyles in a blue Hyundai Sonata and was last seen around the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa on Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, Florida.

The Amber Alert helped find the pair shortly after, and they were tracked down by authorities around 10:30 pm on Sunday. Lyles was recovered safely, and Lawson was taken into custody by the police. The case is currently being investigated as a child abduction.

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