May 23, 2013 - The provincial AMBER Alert program, led by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is adding 'OnStar', one of the world's leading in-vehicle safety and security services, to their list of partners which will increase public assistance and aid police in locating a missing child.
The Ontario AMBER Alert Program notifies the public by using a network of partner-agencies to spread the word whenever there is a report of an abducted child. During an AMBER Alert it is vital to the investigation that critical information about the missing child be relayed to the public in a professional and expeditious manner. There were 5 AMBER Alerts issued in Ontario last year which resulted in 8 safely recovered children.
OnStar will share the alert information with their more than 430,000 Canadian subscribers by integrating alert data into its call centre's geographical mapping system. When a subscriber contacts OnStar for services, they will be informed of the AMBER Alert.
"As a company, it is extremely important for OnStar to support the AMBER Alert program and our technology can play a valuable role," says Kevin Williams, President and Managing Director of General Motors of Canada. "Not only can motorists get information on AMBER Alerts in their area, but they can be directly connected by an OnStar Advisor to local authorities to submit tips and information," Williams adds.
May 25th is 'National Missing Children's Day' and this year's theme is "Help Us Bring Them Home" which focuses on stranger abductions. It takes the diligence of many partners and the public to keep our children safe.
Chris Lewis, OPP Commissioner states, "The more partnerships and investigative tools available, the greater chance we have to save the precious life of a child in Ontario. Swift, coordinated action and widespread communication is vital to the success of this very important program."
Wanting to improve their process in policing and emergency response, RCMP in British Columbia last November stated they were looking into the possibility of using social media in the event of an AMBER Alert. This prompting comes after much criticism for the way an alert was sent out for Alvin Barnett, a missing 3-year-old boy who was spending time with his father, Robert, during a supervised visit at a hotel near Fernie, B.C. where both went missing mid-afternoon. RCMP put out the AMBER Alert and later notified the public that the two had made it across the US border. Alvin and Robert were found in Montana the following morning. Alvin was returned to Canada but his father remained in the United States and charged with theft and abduction. Cp. Darren Lagan with E Division stated that social media assisted in the successful return of Alvin Barnett.
Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, Senior Media Relations Officer with the British Columbia RCMP Communication Services stated, "Discussions and work are still going on around setting up a dedicated website and social media presence for Amber Alert in British Columbia. We do have a
Twitter account at https://twitter.com/bcrcmp, and
Facebook account at http://www.facebook.com/rcmpgrc where we post Amber Alert information for RCMP files."
14 AMBER Alerts have been issued since 2004, which resulted in 17 children recovered safely.