Alpena’s Rotary Club got schooled in amber alerts yesterday afternoon, from the very woman who decides whether or not to send out amber alerts in the state of Michigan.
Detective Sergeant Sarah Krebs came all the way from Lansing to speak to the club today about what she does, as the amber alert coordinator and detective for the Michigan State Police.
Detective Krebs says one complaint she hears a lot is that every missing child deserves an amber alert. Although each missing child causes law enforcement a great deal of concern, she says that not every situation calls for an amber alert.
“If we put out an amber alert for every missing child in Michigan, it would be six an hour, every hour, every day for that whole week. And obviously it would become…nobody would pay attention to it anymore. So as much as we would like to safely recover every missing child with the use of an amber alert, we just know that that’s not feasible,” Krebs explains.
Although an amber alert can be one of the most useful tools they have to finding a missing person, it’s not always fitting for each investigation. Krebs says there could be a huge law enforcement presence behind an investigation, and the public is not called on for help.
That’s because amber alerts require very specific criteria: they are used to find children who are abducted and put into imminent risk. Otherwise, the alerts would occur so frequently that they would simply become white noise to the public. However, when the criteria fit, they have found amber alerts to be the best tool possible to recover a missing child safely.
Detective Krebs adds that it can be a difficult decision whether or not to involve law enforcement when you believe your child is missing.
“I would tell families that if they think they are concerned enough that they need to approach law enforcement, that they should. That at that point, you know your child better than we do, and if they are outside their established behaviors and patterns and they are not coming home, if you’re concerned then we should be concerned too.”
Michigan has just over 4,300 missing people reported, which ranks us third in the nation for the amount of missing people. These concerning numbers can remind all of us that no family is untouchable, and these situations should always inspire the public to do their part in being watchful when an amber alert is released.