The MAILE AMBER (Minor Abducted In Life-threatening Emergency / America’s Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert is a voluntary partnership between the four county police departments, Civil Defense, local broadcasters and State of Hawaii agencies to maximize the dissemination of public information which could aid law enforcement in their efforts to locate children and their abductors when all pre-determined criteria are met.
Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System (EAS, formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System), to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor – the same concept used during severe weather emergencies.
A MAILE AMBER Alert can be activated when police believe a child has been abducted and is in danger. This alert is not intended for runaways or custodial interference cases unless it is determined that the child may be harmed, and will be activated statewide when all of the following criteria have been met:
• The child must be 17 years of age or younger
• There must be sufficient information to indicate that the child has been abducted and is in immediate danger of serious bodily injury or death
• Sufficient information is available about the child and the abductor and/or abductor’s vehicle
If your child is missing and in presumed danger, immediately call 9-1-1 and file a missing persons report. The first few hours are the most critical. Be prepared to provide police with a recent photo and detailed physical information of your child, including the type of clothing worn. A description of the suspect and the vehicle used in the abduction, the direction of flight and the vehicle’s license number are also highly important. Once law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they must determine if the case meets the criteria for issuing a MAILE AMBER Alert.
The goal of the MAILE AMBER Alert is to recover abducted children before they meet physical harm by instantly galvanizing the entire community to assist in both the search for and safe return of the child. Statistics show that time itself is the enemy of an abducted child, as most children who are kidnapped and later found murdered die within the first three hours after being taken. The MAILE AMBER Alert aims to turn that statistic around. Studies show that when ordinary citizens become the eyes and ears of law enforcement, precious lives can be saved.
In the event that you observe a child, adult or vehicle fitting the description, immediately call the telephone number given in the alert or 911 and provide authorities with as much information as possible.
The MAILE AMBER Alerts are issued by law enforcement in cooperation with the media only if the abduction meets the statewide criteria. If the case does not meet the criteria, other investigative tools such as neighborhood canvasses, evidence collection, checks of sex offender registry and tracking dogs may be used. A MAILE AMBER Alert is only one of the many tools in law enforcement’s broader child recovery strategy, and even though a MAILE AMBER Alert is not issued, the media can still be called upon to help with particular cases.
The alert was named in memory of both 6-year old Maile Gilbert, who was abducted from her home in Kailua and murdered in 1985, and 9-year old Amber Hagerman, whose abduction in 1987 so shocked and outraged her Arlington, Texas community that the now nationwide AMBER Alert was created by Dallas radio stations and law enforcement to help prevent future incidents.