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Wireless Emergency Alert system used during Amber Alert

Greece, N.Y. Many people in Western New York received an Amber Alert on their mobile phone, Monday. It was the first of its kind to be sent out in New York State as part of the Wireless Emergency Alert system, and was able to help locate the missing teen quickly.
Wireless Emergency Alerts are put out by the FCC and FEMA. Cell phones that receive these alerts that are critical emergency situations, such as an Amber Alert, have the option turned on in their device.

The alert comes with a beeping sound and a message. On Monday, that alert went out to cell phones throughout western New York and Syracuse as police looked for a 16-year-old Greece girl who was reported missing.

Local law enforcement does the initial investigation, they share the information with the [New York] State Police, said Ed Suk, Executive Director of Missing and Exploited Children. If they feel it meets the criteria and the state police decide if they should send it out.

For an Amber Alert to be issued a child must be under 17-years-old, police must believe there is risk of physical harm to the child, and there's good reason to believe an abduction has taken place. If the alert is sent through the Wireless Emergency Alert system like Monday, police have the description and tag number of the vehicle the child is believed to be in.

I thought that was pretty lighting fast for 45 minutes, between the time of issuance and the time of discovery, said Suk. Amber Alerts are typically very affective usually within a few hours, but that one was very quick. I think part of the reason is because it went out in a very sophisticated way and there are so many more people that are going to have access to this information if youre carrying a cell phone than if youre just driving around in your car.
But not every phone got the alert. It may be because the alert notification in the phone was turned off, the cell phone was out of the area where the alert was issued - it's based on the distance the phone is from the cell phone tower the alert was sent from - or the device doesn't have the capability to receive the alert.

You can choose not received them, but we really encourage people to pay attention and leave your abilities opened to receive these Amber Alerts, said Suk.

In New York State, there are typically four to six amber alerts issued each year.

And they may not all meet the criteria to go out on the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

The only Wireless Emergency Alert people cannot shut off are alerts issued by the President.

The teenage girl in Mondays Amber Alert was sent out for was found unharmed in Brockport. 16-year-old Cassidy Geffert has been charged with grand larceny. She is accused of stealing a handgun from her parents' home. She could face more charges- when she is back in court on Thursday.

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Washington Times