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The criteria for an AMBER Alert in N.C.

Each year more than 10,000 people are reported missing to the N.C. Center for Missing Persons, but not all cases meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When you get an AMBER Alert on your phone, it’s loud and urgent. It signals to the public that a child is missing.

The N.C. Center for Missing Persons serves as the clearinghouse for information regarding missing children and adults. The center is charged with issuing AMBER Alerts. Each year more than 10,000 people are reported to the center. Director Nona Best said not all missing person cases meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.

“It has to be 17 and below,” Best said. “They cannot be a runaway or voluntarily missing, believed to have been abducted, if they are with a parent, we have to justify whether or not they are in imminent danger of injury or death. It has to have been reported to a law enforcement agency.”

Some AMBER Alerts are issued quicker than others, sometimes even days after a child is reported missing to law enforcement. Best said that can happen when the circumstances surrounding the case change.

“With a juvenile, we have issued later when we believed she was a runaway and then four or five days later she calls and says, ‘You know I’m with someone, they won’t let me come home, they’re holding me against my will, they have me locked in a room,’” Best said. “Something like that, then that changes the circumstances.”

Best said there is no waiting period to report someone missing. She encourages the public to contact law enforcement immediately if there is a belief someone is in danger. 

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