Montana News

Apr 30, 2013 3:54 PM by Melissa Anderson (melissa@kxlh.com)

Amber Alert message spread quickly via cell phones

HELENA - Smartphone owners may have received an Amber Alert early Sunday morning for a report of a missing Kalispell boy.

"You'll hear the loud tone that's sent out and that's usually followed by a message that tells about the Amber Alert. You know who the child is, what the suspect information is, if there's a vehicle involved," explained Derek VanLuchene of Ryan United.

The emergency alert system was issued to inform people in both Montana and Washington about the reported abduction of a one-year-old child from the Kalispell area by his non-custodial parents.

This is the first time the new alert system was used in Montana, and appears to be successful.

"They eventually ended up catching up with the suspects in Washington. In talking to some folks, it was a direct result of that alert that was sent out," said VanLuchene.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Justice, and the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children implemented the wireless emergency alert plan in December 2012.

Van Luchene says while most people responded favorably toward the information, there were some who complained on social media they don't want to be involved. But if that's the case, then they can opt out.

"If somebody didn't want it to be on their phone, there is an option that you can go in and turn off on your smart phone," said VanLuchene.

The system is also used to send warnings about severe weather.

Click here to learn more about wireless alerts.

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