Amber Alerts about abducted children will be sent to enabled cellphones 24/7, regardless of the hour, Ohio officials announced this afternoon.
State officials stopped sending the alerts to Wireless Emergency-Alert-enabled phones between midnight and 6 a.m. after the loud tone of a 6:30 a.m. alert on March 12 led some to complain they were unhappy to be awakened.
The Ohio Amber Alert Steering Committee met yesterday and unanimously decided to immediately send the alerts to cellphones as they are issued.
“The urgency in finding an abducted child outweighed any potential inconvenience the alert might cause,” said a statement from the committee.
“Criminals abduct children 24 hours a day, so the alert should go out 24 hours a day,” said Linda Maloy, a committee member from Bucyrus whose daughter survived being abducted, raped and shot.
Phones that are part of the Wireless Emergency Alert program receive the notifications automatically. Other phones can be set to receive the text alerts, which are limited to 90 characters and don’t include photos or Web links.
Some other states don't issue Amber Alerts during hours when most people are not on the road to help look for vehicles and missing children, state officials said previously.
The decision came after the committee met yesterday with the special-programs director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Phones can receive messages about abductions and extreme-weather emergencies as part of a program involving national cellphone carriers.
Cellphone users can opt out of the messages by changing the settings on their phone or by contacting their carriers if they are automatically enrolled.
Law-enforcement officials urge Ohioans not to disable the alerts so the cellphone users can help locate missing and abducted children.
By Randy Ludlow - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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