TRENTON – A bill to help widen the quick dissemination of Amber Alerts in the event of a missing child received final legislative approval on Monday. The Assembly passed it Monday by a 73-0-1 vote. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate in May by a vote of 40-0.
The measure (A-2781/S-1431) would require certain public employees or officers of the state who possess publicly-issued wireless devices to enroll in the national Wireless Amber Alerts Initiative to receive Amber Alert text messages.
“Discovering that a child has gone missing is, by any measure, a parent’s worst nightmare. But the more people who are made aware that an abduction has occurred, the better a chance we have of finding the perpetrator and getting the child safely back home,” said state Sen. Nicholas Scutari. “This legislation will allow us to disseminate Amber Alerts to a network of public workers almost instantly, thereby, increasing the likelihood of a child rescue.”
“Amber Alerts have proven extremely effective in locating abducted children before that window of opportunity closes when many incidents turn tragic,” said Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlsex).
This requirement would apply only to employees or officers using a wireless telephone or electronic communication device 1) issued by a public entity that has contracted with a wireless telephone company that participates in the national Wireless Amber Alerts Initiative; 2) that is capable of receiving text messages; and 3) that is subscribed to or enrolled in a plan that allows the telephone or device to receive text messages.
The New Jersey Amber Plan is a voluntary, cooperative program between the law enforcement community and the broadcast media to send an emergency alert to the public when a child has been abducted and it is believed that the child’s life is in danger. The national Wireless Amber Alerts Initiative is a voluntary partnership between the wireless industry, the United States Department of Justice, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to distribute Amber Alert text messages to wireless subscribers who register to receive the messages.
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