State agencies begin AMBER Alerts on Facebook - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

State agencies begin AMBER Alerts on Facebook

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) – Officials with state agencies across the country and Facebook today announced the launch of AMBER alert pages on the social networking site in case of crimes against children. State police agencies issue AMBER alerts when a child is abducted or kidnapped and is in harm's way.

With Facebook's millions of users, police agencies believe the medium can be used to generate more tips about a child's location in case of emergency.

"You could pretty well depend on this because people know who you are and the information is usually good," said Kennett Police Chief Barry Tate. "We've used it and a lot of people will send tips. We've got a lot of tips about crime or to be looking in certain areas for certain things."

Tate said Wednesday he believes the idea of using Facebook and other social media in this way is a good idea. He also believes the new measure would help trim down the amount of time it takes to find a child, increasing the likelihood police find them safe.

"It's very fast information, very good information," said Tate. "Highway patrol is also involved in this and the highway patrol and all the troops will rebroadcast this information to all the troops and police departments throughout the state of Missouri."

AMBER alert pages were posted to Facebook Wednesday. To find the page for Arkansas, click here. For Missouri, click here.

"I think Facebook is excellent and an excellent tool for law enforcement and the whole community," said Tate. "I wouldn't think the AMBER alert would be used in any other type. If it wasn't serious, it wouldn't be broadcast."

All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, plan to join Facebook to save children from abduction and other crimes.

"A lot of them utilize Facebook. Our drug task force, they've benefited greatly," said Trina Bell, officer with Kennett Police. "Tips on vehicle locations, where they're coming from, where they're going to and things of that nature."

Bell said Facebook has been utilized by the city's humane department as well.

"What they've observed, if the animal is malnourished, out in the cold with no food. What they've observed and our humane department has really been on top of that, prosecuting and making some arrests on it," said Bell.

Bell said there is only one downside she sees with Facebook postings on AMBER alert pages.

"The downside to possibly utilizing Facebook as far as receiving tips and information would be that some people would try to deter you and send you in another direction and get your focus off of where you need to be," said Bell.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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