Thursday December 6, 2007
New Program Gives Police Options to AMBER Alert
Mayor Jerry Abramson and Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White today announced Operation Return Home
, a new tool that will help locate missing children and adults.
“Operation Return Home will allow us to almost instantly get information into the hands of tens of thousands of residents that can help reunite families with loved ones who are missing,” Abramson said.
Police officers began developing the program after the murder of 4-year-old Ivan Cano in June. Investigators believed almost immediately that Cano had been abducted, but there were no witnesses to describe a suspect, so an AMBER Alert could not be issued. AMBER Alerts are issued by the Kentucky State Police and officers must confirm that an abduction has taken place, that the child is younger than 17, and that the child is at serious risk of death or injury. Also, there must be sufficient descriptive information about the child, the captor or captor’s vehicle.
“In the past, our hands were tied when our officers knew that a child was in danger, but the case did not fit the criteria for an AMBER Alert,” White said. “In missing persons’ cases, we must act immediately if we hope to bring these residents home to their families.”
Operation Return Home will be activated by the department’s Crimes Against Children Unit when officers believe a missing child or adult is in imminent danger – whether that’s due to age, suspicious circumstances or a medical condition.
“We can now issue alerts for not only missing children, but adults who may be the victims of crimes or who are mentally or physically ill – people who could be in great danger if they are not located quickly,” White said.
Activation of Operation Return Home will include immediate notification and a description of the missing person emailed to the following recipients:
- Local and regional media
- Regional police departments
- 10,000 members of the Citizen Observer Alert network
- Jefferson County Public Schools
- Regional hospitals
- YMCA facilities
- YMCA Safe Places
- Neighborhood associations
- Local homeless shelters
- Faith-based organizations
- LMPD Foundation
- Exploited Children’s Help Organization (ECHO)
- Alzheimer’s Association
- National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
Officers may also utilize Louisville Metro Emergency Management’s phone notification system that generates calls to targeted zip codes. Those calls will contain a recorded message describing the missing person and encourages residents to call 574-LMPD, the police department’s anonymous tip line.
“When Ivan was missing, more than 1,000 people came together to search for him and to assist his family,” Abramson said. “We want all of our residents to know that we appreciate their help and that they can help other local families by looking at these Operation Return Home alerts and passing them along to friends or co-workers.”
In cases of missing children, the police department will also engage national partners in Operation Return Home that include: the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Polly Klaas Foundation, and A Child is Missing.
For more information about the program, call 574-LMPD.