AMBER Alerts on your phone – what you should know

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FORT MYERS, Fla. –  This weekend you probably got an unexpected alert on your smartphone – an AMBER Alert.

An AMBER Alert is government issued and its purpose is to notify the public of a missing child in danger. Saturday an alert was issued for Jordan Turner, a 14-year-old girl who went missing in Orlando but has since been found.

“I heard all of a sudden there was you know 20 phones went off… I guess everybody’s phone locally pretty much went off,” said Benjamin Spratt, a manager at Paradise Wireless at Gulf Coast Town Center.

“We ask that people just take the time when they get one of these, Google the child’s name, find out more information and that way you can be aware if you see something you can let law enforcement know,” Gretl Plessinger with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) told WINK News.

So with a huge missing child case right now in Southwest Florida, some people have wondered why no such alert was issued for Chance Walsh, a 9-week-old who was last seen in North Port more than a month ago.

“I thought it was weird that with that baby going missing and nobody knowing where, that there was no AMBER Alert sent out for him as well,” said Spratt.

The reason why is pretty simple. The FDLE has five criteria for issuing AMBER Alerts:

-The child must be under 18
-There must be an indication the child is in danger
-There must be an indication that the child was abducted
-There needs to be a description of the child or a suspect vehicle
-The local investigating law enforcement agency has to recommend an alert be issued

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says in baby Chance’s case, there was no recommendation because Chance was not suspected to have been abducted.

To make sure your AMBER Alert notification system is turned on, go to the bottom of your notification settings on iPhones and look for “government alerts”. On Androids, open the settings option in your messaging app and click on “emergency alerts.”


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