In theory (or on paper) the Amber Alert system is a great idea. It’s horrible that we need it, but a great idea nonetheless – except that it has issues. If you don’t know, the Amber Alert system is that special alert text you get on your phone when a child has been abducted. It usually (here’s the key and I’ll get to this) tells about the child, the abductor, and what vehicle they were last in and where it was.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that great a system. Let’s look at the most recent Amber Alert I received – I’m leaving out the names.
“Three year-old [name] has been abducted by [name]. They were last seen in a white sedan with tinted windows on I-20.”
This irks me for a number of reasons.
1) Anyone else notice that the people description is a little vague? The names were both, just for fun, gender neutral. So, we’re looking for a single person, unless there’s a passenger we don’t know about, traveling in a car. We won’t be able to see the child because the windows are tinted. Potentially single person in a car? Got it. Glad we narrowed that down.
2) Identifying features of the car? Tinted windows and it’s a white sedan. News flash, white sedan doesn’t really narrow it down a whole lot. There are LOTS of white cars. According to Autolist.com, 26% of cars on the road today are white. Sedan? That, too, is a bit vague. What kind of sedan? Toyota? Nissan? Volkswagen? Bentley? Rolls Royce? Porsche? Ford? Chevy? GMC? Tesla? Okay, so… not a truck. Got it.
Or how about this…
3) Near I20? Interstate 20, as near as I can tell on Google Maps, starts in Columbia, South Carolina and ends somewhere in Reeves County, Texas. 1,539 miles. Really? And you’ll just give us NEAR I20.
Look, I get how this is supposed to work. I understand the idea. I really do hope someone finds the kid and he/she (it?) is safe. But if you’re going to send out a message at FOUR A-M, when I, like millions of other Americans, are in bed and not really near any of the 1500+ miles of I20, you’re going to have to give me a little more to work with. But we’re going to have much luck with the description “gender indeterminate child kidnapped by gender indeterminate person driving nondescript and plentiful car somewhere on 1500+ miles of an interstate.” I do wish them luck. With a description like that, they’re going to need it.