H. B. 2910
(By Delegates Mahan, Stalnaker, Long, Craig and Trump)
(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary)
[February 24, 2003]
A BILL to amend chapter fifteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article three-a, relating to
the establishment of an "Amber alert" system to be utilized to
rapidly disseminate information with regard to abducted
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter fifteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article three-a, to read as
§15-3A-1. Short title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as "Amber's
§15-3A-2. Findings and determinations relative to "Amber's Plan".
(a) The Legislature finds and determines that:
(1) Public alerts can be one of the most effective tools in
combating child abductions;
(2) Law enforcement officers and other professionals
specializing in the field of abducted and missing children agree
that the most critical moments in the search for an abducted child
are the first few hours immediately following the abduction,
asserting that if a child is not found within two to four hours, it
is unlikely that child will be found alive;
(3) The rapid dissemination of information, including a
description of the abducted child, details of the abduction,
abductor and vehicle involved, to the citizens of the affected
community and region is, therefore, critical;
(4) Alerted to an abduction, the citizenry become an
extensive network of eyes and ears serving to assist law
enforcement in quickly locating and safely recovering the child;
(5) The most effective method of immediately notifying the
public of a child abduction is through the broadcast media.
(b) The Legislature declares that given the successes other
states and regions have experienced in using broadcast media alerts
to quickly locate and safely recover abducted children, it is
altogether fitting and proper, and within the public interest, to
establish such a program for West Virginia.
§15-3A-3. Establishment of "Amber's Plan".
(a) The secretary of the department of military affairs and
public safety shall establish "Amber's Plan", a program authorizing
the broadcast media, upon notice from the state police, to transmit
an emergency alert to inform the public of a child abduction. The
program shall be a voluntary, cooperative effort between state and
local law-enforcement agencies and the broadcast media.
(b) The secretary shall notify the broadcast media serving
the state of West Virginia of the establishment of "Amber's Plan"
and invite their voluntary participation.
§15-3A-4. Activation of Amber Alert.
The following criteria shall be met before the state police
activate the amber alert:
(1) The child is believed to be abducted;
(2) The child is seventeen years of age or younger;
(3) The child may be in danger of death or serious bodily
(4) There is sufficient information available to indicate
that an amber alert would assist in locating the child.
§15-3A-5. Notice to participating media; broadcast of alert.
(a) The participating media shall voluntarily agree, upon
notice from the state police, to transmit emergency alerts to
inform the public of a child abduction that has occurred within
their broadcast service regions.
(b) The alerts shall be read after a distinctive sound tone
and a statement notifying that the broadcast is an abducted child
alert. The alerts shall be broadcast as often as possible,
pursuant to guidelines established by the West Virginia
Broadcasters' Association, for the first three hours. After the
initial three hours, the alert shall be rebroadcast at such
intervals as the investigating authority, the state police and the
participating media deem appropriate.
(c) The alerts shall include a description of the child, such
details of the abduction and abductor as may be known, and such
other information as the state police may deem pertinent and
appropriate. The state police shall in a timely manner update the
broadcast media with new information when appropriate concerning
(d) The alerts also shall provide information concerning how
those members of the public who have information relating to the
abduction may contact the state police or other appropriate law-
(e) Concurrent with the notice provided to the broadcast
media, the state police shall also notify the department of
transportation, the division of highways and the West Virginia
turnpike commission of the "Amber Alert" so that the department and
the affected authorities may, if possible, through the use of their
variable message signs, inform the motoring public that an "Amber Alert" is in progress and may provide information relating to the
abduction and how motorists may report any information they have to
the state police or other appropriate law-enforcement agency.
(f) The alerts shall terminate upon notice from the state
(g) The secretary, with the assistance of the participating
broadcast media, shall develop and undertake a public education
campaign to inform law-enforcement agencies and the public about
"Amber's Plan" and the emergency alert program established under
§15-3A-6. Guidelines; procedural rules.
The secretary may adopt guidelines and procedural rules to
effectuate the purposes of this article.