(WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has learned law enforcement is going through new training and taking new steps to help find missing children when they’re most in danger.
The I-Team investigated the questions so many of you ask every time kids go missing: Why didn’t police send out an Amber Alert? And, just how effective are the alerts?
The Amber Alert system involves an emergency network to help the public find missing kids in danger, and records show it works.
But officials admit the system is not always perfect.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Raines said a delay happened in a case in Columbus in December. He said it took far longer than normal to issue an Amber Alert for twins Ky’Air and Kason Thomas. The children were ultimately found. But, Ky’Air died about a month later in what investigators said was a “sudden unexplained infant death.”
The I-Team recently found a large training session for law enforcement from across the state.
“We updated that training based on lessons learned from past Amber Alerts, especially the Thomas Amber Alert,” Raines said. “We updated that training and everybody got retrained.”
We’re told new procedures also have been put in place for police to use on a regular basis during roll call.
Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy leads the Northeast Ohio Amber Alert Committee. He told the I-Team that Amber Alerts are rare, in part, since police cannot send out an alert for every missing child.
“So, in the state of Ohio, there are very strict requirements,” Majoy said. “And this is why we don’t get them every day on our phones.”
A decision on whether or not to issue an Amber Alert depends on the child’s age, the danger and the circumstances.
Since 2021, there have been 24 Amber Alerts issued in Ohio. All of the children have been found safe.
Nationwide, police told us in the last two years investigators have issued 254 Amber Alerts to your phones and TVs. That has led to children being recovered in all but two of the cases.
Majoy noted that if an Amber Alert is not issued, police still have other lower-level alerts they can use, such as an endangered child alert. That involves letting people know they should be on the lookout for a child by breaking into TV programming and setting off loud tones on phones.
Such an alert was issued out of Michigan in January, and state troopers in Ohio were able to find the child.
Officials said they, too, want to do everything they can to find a missing child as soon as possible, so they’re always asking themselves, ‘What can they do better in an emergency?’
“Getting the child found and home safe is everyone’s top priority,” Majoy said.