KBI to implement all recommendations from Amber Alert review

TOPEKA, Kan. Update: Kirk Thompson, the Director of the KBI, tells FactFinder12 that he plans to implement all recommendations in the Amber Alert review.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt ordered a top-to-bottom review of the Amber Alert program after to concerns about recent execution of the alerts.

The KBI recommended eight changes to the program. They include creating a procedural checklist for when the KBI activates an Amber Alert, improving the agency's training efforts of local law enforcement on Amber Alerts, and that local law enforcement agencies shorten their amber alert processes.

The KBI also recommends creating an Amber Alert advisory board that would review Amber Alerts yearly and address any concerns.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmitdt Wednesday released results of a top-to-bottom review of the Kansas Amber Alert program.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation conducted the review, requested by Schmidt in December. The request came in response to concerns about the execution of recent Amber Alerts. FactFinder 12 Investigator Devon Fasbinder found someone from the KBI made a mistake causing an automatic cell phone alert to not go out to phones in December.

“The Amber Alert program is a vitally important tool to help law enforcement recover abducted children in certain situations,” Schmidt said. “Ensuring ongoing public confidence in the system’s reliability must remain a top priority, and this review should be reassuring to all Kansans who expect the Amber Alert system to operate as intended. I am grateful to the KBI officials who conducted this careful review and also to officials of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who assisted and provided an important outside perspective on the Kansas system.”

The report makes eight recommendations in five areas:

Identified Delays
Recommendation 1: It is recommended that the KBI improve efforts to educate and train local law enforcement agencies. Training will continue to focus on the rapid and thorough response to suspected child abductions and on appropriate practices for Amber Alert issuance. Ongoing training of Kansas law enforcement should help minimize impactful delays when issuing an alert.
Recommendation 2: It is recommended that local law enforcement agencies establish procedures that shorten their Amber Alert request process during the initial response to an abduction. Local agencies are encouraged to give the authority to request an Amber alert to officers on the scene to avoid multiple levels of command approval.

Policies and Procedures
· Recommendation: It is recommended that the procedural checklist be created and integrated into the operational procedure utilized when activating an Amber Alert.

Program Misperceptions
· Recommendation: It is recommended that an opportunity be extended to Kansas media partners to meet directly with KBI personnel to review Amber Alert processes and seek their input on program improvements. This effort will help establish greater understanding of the program’s complexities and may help alleviate (misperceptions) held by the media and public.

Amber Alert Advisory Board
· Recommendation: It is recommended that an Amber Alert advisory board be established consisting of seven members who meet annually to review all Amber alerts and to address programmatic concerns. This seven member board will consist of the Kansas Attorney General, the KBI Director, a designee appointed by the attorney general, a designee appointed by the KBI Director, two local law enforcement representatives, and a member of the broadcast media. The board would review the documents and circumstances associated with any issued alert or consultation. The board’s findings and recommendations would be documented and provided to the KBI for consideration.

Reliability of Systems
· Recommendation 1: Efforts must be focused on continually addressing technological advances that affect the program.
· Recommendation 2: It is recommended that the program seeks to implement the Technical Working Group (TWG) recommendations for currently available technological improvements to the Emergency Alert System.
· Recommendation 3: It is recommended that the TWG continue to meet and collaborate in solving technological issues. A meeting of the group will be called at least annually.

Kent Cornish, President of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters said he's glad to see the KBI working to partner with the media regarding AMBER Alerts. He said that relationship is key to making sure the public understands the alerts, and how and when they're used.

"There are lots of different rules in different parts of the country on AMBER Alerts, but there's always four or five factors that have met and I think sometimes the public doesn't realize that and then they're calling the media going why wasn't an AMBER Alert called?" explained Cornish.

A copy of the Kansas Amber Alert program review is available on the attorney general’s website HERE.