When a child is kidnapped, every second counts. The lifesaving Amber Alert program has resulted in the recovery of nearly 600 children nationwide. More than a third of those cases are from California. It has been 10 years since California started the Amber Alert program. Since then, 234 abducted children have been recovered and reunited with their loved ones. When a kidnapping occurs, local law enforcement alerts the highway patrol. The CHP acts as coordinator, and along with Caltrans puts the message on the signs.
“It's been a great success. Obviously getting those kids back home to their families is the most important thing,” said CHP Public Information Officer Sean Duncan.
One of the more recent Amber Alert incidents in the Central Valley involved Gregorio Gonzalez. He's accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in Fresno, nearly two years ago. The young girl was found safe, after a good Samaritan chased down Gonzalez after spotting the two.
“We were all rejoicing when Gregorio Gonzalez was called in by a public citizen who recognized the amber alert of the vehicle,” said Duncan.
Gonzalez entered a not guilty plea in court, Monday morning. The Amber Alert system was put to the test in California in 2002. Two teenage girls were abducted at gunpoint in Southern California. They tried getting away by stabbing their kidnapper and hitting him in the face with a whiskey bottle. Thanks to the Amber Alert, they were found unharmed, and were returned home. The suspected kidnapper, Roy Ratliff was shot and killed. One decade later and more than 200 child recoveries families across California couldn't be more grateful.
“I think it's the greatest thing they've come up with so far to find lost children. It's a great thing,” expressed Auberry resident, Bill Stringer.
The Amber Alert network started in Texas 16 years ago, after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped and murdered. The system was then developed to help recover missing or abducted children. It was later named in her honor.
You can now access Amber Alert through Facebook. You can also receive notifications through the program's website. For more information, just click on News Links.