Statewide AMBER Alert Test Scheduled for January 13

The Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) is notifying the public a statewide test of the Montana AMBER Alert System has been scheduled for National AMBER Alert Day – January 13, 2017 at approximately 10:00 am.  This will be an end-to-end live system test and should include cell phone alerting.

The public should be aware Montana’s AMBER Alert system uses two types of cell phone notifications:

• The first type of cellular alert is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS) Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) which broadcasts a loud tone and sends a short text message.  This is the same system used to broadcast Presidential Emergency messages.  Every cellular phone in the AMBER Alert area should receive this message if they have not disabled the alert.  If citizens do not receive this alert, they should contact their cell phone carrier.
• The second type of cellular alert comes from CodeRED and allows more detailed AMBER Alert information to be distributed, including photographs.  However, in order to receive these cellular alerts, citizens must download the free CodeRED application available at:  https://ecnetwork.com/codered-mobile-alert-app/

Montana’s AMBER Alert system is activated to alert the public when law enforcement believes a child has been abducted under life-threatening circumstances.  “The upcoming test of our AMBER Alert system is key to maintaining  this life-saving notification tool for Montana’s missing children,” Attorney General Tim Fox said.  “We know that the first few hours after an abduction are the most critical for a kidnapped child’s safe return.  Citizen tips are vital for Montana’s law enforcement agencies as they work to recover children and arrest kidnapping suspects,” Attorney General Fox added.

Since Montana’s AMBER Alert Program was established in 2003, there have been 32 AMBER Alerts issued; seven of them were for abductions that occurred in other states or Canada.  Due to strong public participation, all 47 children were located.  Tragically, four were located deceased:  Two were murdered in cases that started in Idaho and Canada respectively; one child was the victim of an accidental death; and one child was murdered in Montana last year.

Last summer, DOJ announced it began using CodeRED to issue Montana’s AMBER Alerts and Missing Endangered Person Advisories (MEPAs), thanks to a generous donation by the Town Pump Foundation, which made the switch to the new alert system possible.

Montana’s AMBER Alert system is effective in large part because of the dedicated partnership among Montana law enforcement, the Montana Broadcasters Association and media, the Montana National Weather Service, and several state agencies including the Montana Department of Justice, the Montana Department of Transportation, the Montana Department of Administration, and the Montana Lottery, as well as Montana’s citizens.