WICHITA, Kan. Many viewers contacted Eyewitness News after not receiving an Amber Alert notification on their phones early Tuesday morning.
FactFinder 12 Investigator Devon Fasbinder went to the source of the Amber Alert, the KBI, to find out what went wrong.
In a statement, the KBI says human error is to blame:
"The issuance of an Amber Alert is an extremely complex and expedient process, which requires a great deal of communication by multiple parties. When this Amber Alert was issued, photos and information were deployed to media outlets, the Emergency Alert System engaged, the Amber Alert webpage was activated, and Twitter messages were sent. Additionally, private companies who partner to provide announcements on billboards and online sites were contacted to display public messages. While each of these aspects of the alert properly occurred, a procedural step was missed and the wireless emergency alerts (the announcements the public receives on their cell phones) were not broadcasted as intended. This lapse occurred due to human error in the middle of the night, but is being taken very seriously."
KBI says it conducts after-action reviews each time an Amber Alert is activated so it can work out problems or issues with procedures and practices.
The agency said a review of Tuesday's Amber Alert is underway now.
Tuesday afternoon, FactFinder 12 investigator Devon Fasbinder spent about 20 minutes at a post office in Wichita and spoke with seven people, none of which knew there was an Amber Alert.
"I normally receive the Amber Alerts on my phone and so does my husband and I talked to him this morning and he didn't tell me about it either. So we didn't know about it," Sarah Hamblin said.
"No, I didn't get one," Brian Henderson said. "That phone call to your phone is better than anything."
The KBI says it is taking the mistake very seriously.
When there is an Amber Alert, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) said it automatically finds out.
It's up to the NCMEC to activate the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) that is offered through FEMA. It's that alert that makes your phone give off a tone and tell you about a local Amber Alert.
A spokesman for the NCMEC said the center called the KBI this morning because the two agencies always make contact with Amber Alerts. He said the KBI has to give permission to send the alert to cellphones and also has to craft the language you'll read in the alert.
But the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the person from the KBI who answered the phone didn't have the authority to make those decisions and the NCMEC never heard back.
The KBI said the step that it missed had to do with an email. Spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said KBI should send an email to the NCMEC detailing which counties should receive the automatic alert. She said "internal miscommunication" meant that never happened.
FactFinder 12 also asked the KBI for the step-by-step procedure when it comes to handling Amber Alerts. Underwood said she is checking to see if that can be made public.