Attorney General orders review of Kansas Amber Alert operations

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of Kansas Amber Alert operations, after a mobile alert was not sent out during an Amber Alert Tuesday.

Fact Finder 12 Investigators first reached out to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, after a woman and her three children were taken from their home by gunpoint Monday night. An Amber Alert was issued, but a notification was not sent to mobile phones in the area.

Wednesday, Schmidt asked KBI Director Kirk Thompson to review the program, and report steps taken to ensure the reliability of the system no later than January 31, 2017. Schmidt asked Thompson to call a meeting of the Amber Alert Advisory Board as part of the review.

Click here for a copy of Schmidt's letter to Thompson.

Schmidt's move is one former Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall Steckline applauds.

"I think that's a really good job on General Schmidt's part is just to understand all facets of it because it is such an important piece and tool in the toolbox of law enforcement to try to find abducted children," she says.

Stovall Steckline was instrumental in bringing the Amber Alert system to Kansas in 2002. She says while people do make mistakes, this is a system this is vital to Kansas children.

"I'm glad those systems in place have continued way past my tenure and continued to be improved upon so that we protect the children as best we can," she says.

Wednesday afternoon, the KBI issued the following statement on the Amber Alert program review:

The Kansas AMBER Alert program, coordinated by the KBI, is a vitally important tool to aid in the safe return of abducted children. The KBI recognizes that the program must operate with the greatest efficiency possible.

Since the program’s launch in 2002, 35 AMBER alerts have been issued. Of these alerts, 12 were activated at the request of other states in regard to cases occurring in their jurisdictions. Kansas issued the remaining 23 alerts which involved 29 children. All of these children were located safe.

Use of the AMBER Alert program to assist in locating Kansas abducted children is increasing. So far this year, the KBI has issued eight AMBER alerts, which is more than four times the prior annual average.

It is the KBI’s practice to complete a review of each AMBER Alert in an effort to continually improve the success of AMBER Alert operations. Today, Attorney General Derek Schmidt requested a more comprehensive review of the entire AMBER Alert program. The KBI shares the Attorney General’s commitment to the safety of Kansas children and looks forward to working with its partners to review and strengthen the AMBER Alert program.

Thursday, Schmidt says he has full confidence in the Amber Alert system in Kansas, but wants improvement.

"The Amber Alert has grown rapidly in terms of new methods of informing people," Schmidt says. With FBI notifications, Twitter notifications, the cell phone notifications that were problematic in the Wichita case from this week. It just makes good sense to pause, take a look at the program, make sure that all the pieces fit together."