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MSP: All Amber Alerts to be sent to cellphones

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Amber Alerts are set to change next year, focusing on abductions and allowing all cases to be broadcast to area cellphones, according to the Michigan State Police.

Beginning Jan. 1, all alerts will receive a wireless emergency alert sent to mobile devices. Previously, a vehicle license plate was required for the alert to be broadcast, meaning some Amber Alerts were issued but not disseminated via cellphones.

Amber Alerts are set to change next year, focusing on abductions and allowing all cases to be broadcast to area cell phones, according to the Michigan State Police.

The criteria for issuing an Amber Alert also will change in the new year, officials said, with only suspected child abductions included. The victims must be younger than 18 years old.

Previously, Amber Alerts also were created for missing children with severe mental or physical conditions who had wandered away.

"Any time a child goes missing, it’s an urgent situation and we should all pay attention; however, in the case of child abductions the urgency is even greater," MSP Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said in a statement. "By tightening the standards for issuing an Amber Alert, we will ensure these alerts are utilized in only the most dire of circumstances to get credible, useful information out to the public in order to bring abducted children home safely."

Going forward, cases that do not involve abductions will qualify for a new "Endangered Missing Advisory" open to missing persons of all ages. This advisory will be sent to broadcast and print media but will not be alerted on mobile devices or interrupt television broadcasting.

Michigan’s Amber Alert system is a collaboration between state police, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Michigan Sheriff’s Association and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The alerts have helped save 262 missing Michigan children, according to officials.

Learn more at the state's official Amber Alert website.

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier