BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor and Presque Isle police departments, which both use Facebook to keep residents informed of local events, are making Amber Alerts available through the social networking site.
This means the alerts — notices that a child has been abducted — can be sent directly to cell phones to spread the word even faster when a child is in danger.
The police departments placed Amber Alert links on their Facebook pages several weeks ago, allowing users to sign up for the alerts by selecting the state of Maine Amber Alert icon and clicking on “like.”
Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland made the same announcement Friday in his weekly news release.
“Facebook users can now sign up for Amber Alerts in a new program announced earlier this month by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which will coordinate the Facebook alerts,” he said. “The heart of Amber Alerts remains TV and radio broadcasters which allow programming to be interrupted when an alert has been issued. Roadside message boards also help get the word out.”
The national alert program was put into place by the U.S. Department of Justice nearly a decade ago, and has been credited with the recovery of 525 children, McCausland said.
“Maine has issued only one Amber Alert since it became active in the state in December of 2002,” he said. “That one time was in November of 2009 when a 2-year-old girl was abducted by her father in Sanford. Both were found unharmed the following day along a woods road in New Hampshire.”
Maine’s agency designated to issue the Amber Alert is the Maine State Police.
“The Amber Alert system is one element of the broader Emergency Alert System program, which is used primarily for weather-related situations,” the Maine Association of Broadcasters website states.
The goal of the program is to enlist help from the public when a child is abducted, so he or she can be returned home safely.
Those who would like to sign up for Maine Amber Alerts through Facebook can go to facebook.com/AMBERalertme. Once on that page, click on the thumbs-up “like” icon at the top.
“Alerts will be posted on state sites immediately and removed after it is canceled,” an Amber Alert Facebook post from Wednesday, Jan. 26, states. “Amber Alerts work when the right person sees the alert and helps save a child. You could be the right person.”