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Google has announced that it's now partnering with the AMBER Alert program in an effort to help bring abducted children back home.
AMBER Alert is a program of the U.S. Justice Department in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies around the country. In an effort to rescue abducted children, the AMBER Alert system provides a central repository for information about ongoing kidnappings. From there, information can be posted in relevant locations so communities can help.
One of the most public ways to get the news out has been electronic roadside signs that display AMBER Alerts as soon as they're issued. But if you use Google, you'll now have more ways to get that information.
As part of the new partnership, Google will carry AMBER Alert information on its search and map tools, for both desktop and mobile platforms.
What does this mean? If you search for related information in a particular location or perform a targeted search, information about any local AMBER Alerts will come up as well. Alerts generally contain information about the child abducted, where and when it happened, and the descriptions of any vehicles involved.
The data comes from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which maintains information about AMBER Alerts nationwide.
The AMBER Alert program is a national initiative, and state participation is voluntary. But it's become an important tool for recovering missing children by making it easier to quickly relay information.
Since its launch, AMBER Alerts have helped recover nearly 600 children, according to NCMEC. Google is hoping that with its help, even more children can be found.
Kidnapping is a crime in every state. When it involves interstate travel, it becomes a federal crime as well. Any time an adult takes a child somewhere against the child's will (or against the will of the child's parent or guardian), that could potentially be prosecuted as kidnapping or abduction.
But unlike other crimes, quick action after a reported kidnapping can minimize harm to the abducted child and the child's family. The kidnapper won't get out of trouble, but the child will be safe.
Next time you're on Google, keep an eye out for any AMBER Alerts that pop up on your screen. You could help stop a terrible crime.