The AMBER Plan is a voluntary, cooperative program between law-enforcement agencies and local broadcasters to send an emergency alert to the public when a child has been abducted and it is believed that the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death. Under the AMBER Plan, area radio and television stations interrupt programming to broadcast information about the missing child using the Emergency Alert System, formerly known as the Emergency Broadcast System. While EAS is typically used for alerting the public to severe weather emergencies, it is also the warning system for civil and national emergencies. The federal government requires all radio and television stations and most cable systems to install and maintain devices that can monitor EAS warnings and tests and relay them rapidly and reliably to their audiences. The idea behind the AMBER Plan is a simple one: if stations can broadcast weather warnings through EAS, why not child abductions? The AMBER Plan provides law-enforcement agencies with another tool to help recover abducted children and quickly apprehend the suspect.
The purpose of the AMBER Plan is to provide a rapid response to the most serious child-abduction cases. When an AMBER Alert is activated, law-enforcement agencies immediately gain the assistance of thousands of broadcast and cable listeners and viewers throughout the area. The plan relies on the community to safely recover the abducted child. It is hoped that this early warning system will not only coerce a kidnapper into releasing the child for fear of being arrested but also deter the person from committing the crime in the first place.