MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In addition to signs on the highway and alerts on radio and TV, you may have been one of thousands notified of the Amber Alert on your cell phone Wednesday.
They are called “wireless emergency alerts” or WEAs. They’re the newest attempt at getting the word out quickly when a child is in trouble.
“When a child is missing, it’s all about time,” Minnesota Amber Alert Coordinator Janell Rasmussen said. “And we’re working very quickly to get information out to the public.”
Amber alerts are issues when police have confirmed a child under 17 is in serious danger, and those who head up the efforts to recover the child say your cell phone is their newest tool.
“In less than five minutes, we are able to activate the entire state of Minnesota,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen, who’s also the BCA Administrative Services Director, says no part of Minnesota is off-limits.
“We always send this information statewide, because we know a suspect can travel very quickly,” she said.
In the past, you had to sign up to receive Amber Alerts on your cell. But now, if you have a newer phone, it’s automatic.
Those on social media were quick to respond to the new alerts popping up on their cell phones.
Rasmussen says while older phones aren’t compatible with the wireless alerts, most newer smart phones are. If your phone’s not compatible, you can’t sign up to get the alert.
During past Amber Alerts, you may have noticed details of the alert printed on your lottery ticket.
Minnesota was the first state to print this information on tickets and since, a number of states have followed.
Since 2001, there have been 28 Amber Alert activations in Minnesota. In all 28 cases, the child was safely recovered.