Springfield Police are providing more information regarding a case that was successfully closed earlier this month, but that garnered a lot of harsh criticism from the public.
When a child went missing this month, Springfield Police took to social media with a plea for information that might help them locate the child.
During this investigation, police report that calls were also coming to their office to yell and swear at the officers for not generating an ‘Amber Alert.’
Springfield Police state that those actions ultimately wasted the officers' time and were detrimental to the investigation for a number of reasons.
Police point out that Amber Alerts are provincially coordinated and require specific criteria to be issued.
In the case of the missing child earlier this month, those criteria were not met.
The Springfield Police Service has released more details on what transpired during their investigation including the steps they took in order to locate the child.
The following is the complete post that was made on their Facebook page Facebook.com/SpringfieldPolice2016.ca
“Recently, we issued a social media plea for assistance to locate a missing child. Tips from the public as a result of that social media push resulted in investigators having a better understanding of the child's movements and ultimately assisted in successfully locating them.
So, huge thank you to all who shared and kept a lookout and called in potential sightings.
What was surprising to us was the significant number of persons unaffiliated with the investigation demanding to see an emergency or 'Amber' alert issued. We even had people call the office - not to pass on tips - but to yell and swear at our officers for not generating an Amber Alert.
These were not family members or anyone related to the investigation, just people who felt we weren't doing enough.
Ultimately, those actions wasted our officers time and were detrimental to the investigation for a number of reasons.
So we're going to talk about Amber Alerts today and hopefully clear up some misconceptions.
'Amber Alerts' have been around since 1996 but were first introduced in Canada around 2002. Contrary to what many believe, they're named after a person, not a colour. In 1996 Amber Hagerman was abducted and later murdered in the state of New York and her case was the first known use of the emergency broadcast to locate an abducted person.
Amber alerts are provincially coordinated and require specific criteria to be issued. Those criteria vary a bit region by region but loosely are as follows:
- The child is under the age of 18;
- There is a belief that the child has been abducted;
- There is a belief that the child is in grave danger;
- There is information is available that may help locate the child and/or the abductor (e.g., description of the child, the suspect, or the vehicle driven by the abductor); and
- The alert be issued within a reasonable amount of time from the moment of the abduction.
If those criteria are not met, we cannot issue an Amber Alert. We instead must rely on other investigative techniques as well as social and other media to get the word out. End of the story. There is no wiggle room, begging or cajoling that will change that fact.
In this particular case, the facts known to investigators did not justify the use of the Amber Alert and we would not have been able to issue one had we tried.
Please know that when a child is reported missing, that is a number one priority for us and our law enforcement and emergency service partners. All avenues and investigative techniques are explored.
In this particular investigation multiple avenues were actioned on top of the social media push. An RCMP K-9 officer was called in from Red River North to assist however a track was not located due to the large volume of people around the last known location. This is no ones fault, it's just a busy spot.
We also canvassed the area, interviewed friends, family and school staff, searched the residence of the child to learn their intentions, coordinated a road search in possible directions of travel and coordinated and followed up on all tips and possible sightings.
Ultimately, SPS and Oakbank RCMP were successful in locating the child and bringing them home to their waiting loved ones.
Another frequent topic that came up was the use of the 'ground search'.
First, we must say we're proud to serve a community where so many reached out to make themselves available to search. We have no doubt should that be needed in the future we'll have the numbers required.
A ground search was ruled out for the time being as we did not have a good idea of what geographic area the child was in, at that current time in order to effectively search.
Putting together a search is a time consuming and arduous task. Simply searching an area without evidence the child is or was there siphons resources from other aspects of the investigation and exhausts searchers which makes future searches that may be fruitful less efficient.
We hope this answers any questions you may have had about the Amber Alert system and how it applies to the investigation of missing children.
For further reading, you can check out missingkids.ca”