Overnight Amber Alert cellphone calls halted

Ohioans upset about being awakened about 6:30 a.m. by a loud tone from their cellphones alerting them to a child abduction.
Mar 18, 2013


Some Ohioans were none too happy to be awakened about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday by a loud tone from their cellphones alerting them to a child abduction.

Partly because of that, the Ohio Amber Alert Steering Committee announced yesterday that it will not send out alerts to cellphones between midnight and 6 a.m., at least for the time being.

The alert on Tuesday resulted in “considerable grumbling” in the form of complaints to the State Highway Patrol and the attorney general’s office, Lt. Anne Ralston, patrol spokeswoman, said yesterday.

The statewide alert that a 16-year-old girl and her 7-month-old daughter had been abducted in West Virginia by the teen’s stepfather was sent to cellphones in Ohio that had been enabled to receive such alerts. Phones that are part of the Wireless Emergency Alert program receive the notifications automatically. Other phones can be set to receive the alerts.

The man was arrested, and the girls were safely recovered in West Virginia around 9 a.m. Tuesday. The alert had been extended into Ohio because of reports that the man’s car had been seen crossing into Ohio.

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, Ralston said. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children also generally doesn’t send alerts until after 6 a.m.

The primary alert about the West Virginia abductions — notices to police, the news media and interstate message boards — had been issued around 11 p.m. Monday. Those agencies will still be notified at all hours.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, following its general protocol, did not send out the secondary alert to cellphones in Ohio until about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, Ralston said.

Ohio will study the ramifications of time limits before setting permanent hours when messages will not be sent, she said.

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 in trying to locate missing and abducted children.


By Randy Ludlow - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


george's bush

Could we as humans whine anymore?

jack langhals

Gee,that is horrible,they would probably bxtch if the tornado siren went off before 6 am.


Dang I thought that was the whole point was to get amber alerts out as fast as possible... The world is becoming a sad place when amber alerts get on ur nerves:(


i agree with the above comments. what if it was your child? you would want an amber alert sent out as soon as possible! but people only think about themselves! i got the alert, but i was already up so it didn't matter.. and even if i was still asleep i wouldn't care! a child was abducted and all these people care about is being woke up. get over yourselves!

tell it how it is


tell it how it is

The problem with that Amber Alert was people in our area were getting them, one around midnight and another around 630 am, plus another 2 throughout the day...when the people were in West Virginia OR southern Ohio. Not close to here.

If the ones at midnight and 630 am had gone off for a reason that was possible to be more near-by, no complaint. But, I must say even I was rather angry. The ones later in the day didn't bother me, especially as at that time it was actually possible for them to be closer to here. The earlier ones it wasn't, unless they were driving extreeeemely fast.

It wasn't about being woken up. Wasn't about being selfish. It was about common sense.


Why not continue with the anytime Amber Alerts and give people an option of opting out of receiving them or being able to login to a database type of website and setting time restraints when you want to receive and when you don't.

I, for one, want to receive them whenever one is announced for the same that Heitsche23 mentioned. If my kid went missing, I want others to know ASAP.

JMOP's picture

It's a sad world when someone doesn't want to be bothered with a noise from their phone, because 2 children have been abducted.
We are living in a world of numbness, but by law we have to be politically correct. Something is horribly wrong with this picture.


yes but it said they may have saw the car cross into ohio. so all of ohio gets that text incase this guy makes his way to norwalk, you at least know what you're looking for. or if you're in columbus for the day, and they go to columbus, you would've got that text and you'd know what the vehicle looks like, or the people. that's why ohioans were noticed.


...that and it was reported that they could have been traveling north on I-77 which runs up to I-90, a quick trip to the west and they would have been in our immediate area. It was absolutely the right call to alert us in this Amber Alert.

tell it how it is

Read my comment.

The 2 that went off later in the day, yes they may have been close to us.
BUT the two extremely early ones there was no possible way they were anywhere close. Unless driving at rediculous speeds in which case they would have been picked up by then.
I, personally, made the trip from here to OU very frequently, which is only 20-30 min from WV, and driving around 80 the whole time it still took me over 4 hours each time.

As I said earlier, it was NOT about the time of the alerts. It was that mixed with the honest irrelevance for the time being. So to the people saying its a sad world, no. Yes, alerslts should go out immediately to the people who actually have a chance of seeing them


Wouldn't you rather get the alert before they could be in your area so you can keep an eye open for them? If they waited until they were 'possibly' in our immediate area, they could have already been gone.

Again, I think anyone with kids would want every angle taken care of in the case their child went missing.

tell it how it is

I'll agree to that. But the one that went off at midnight I won't agree to.
However, it sounds like not everyone got that one.

I most certainly would not have complained. While I was upset by the one that went off so early, I do agree that it needs to be done ASAP. I'm really just trying to show why people complained. The early ones were aggravating and not necessary to our area. That's all I was saying. BUT yes, I do think they should be sent out.