(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; and
(6) That in addition to public alerts, other tools allowing rapid response and identification of the movements of persons suspected in a child abduction require the use of all forms of developing technologies to assist law enforcement in rapid response to these alerts and is an additional tool for assuring the well being and safety of our children. Thus, the use of traffic video recording and monitoring devices for the purpose of surveillance of a suspect vehicle adds yet another set of eyes to assist law enforcement and aid in the safe recovery of the child.
(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, and, with the recent development of highway video recording and monitoring systems, it is altogether fitting and proper, and within the public interest, to establish these programs for West Virginia.
(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.
(a) 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 injury; and
(4) There is sufficient information available to indicate that an Amber Alert would assist in locating the child.
(b) In the event of suspicion that a child has been abducted or is missing, and in the initial stages of a missing or abducted child investigation, the reporting law enforcement agency shall contact the West Virginia State Police Communications Center by telephone. The communications center will then contact the Amber Alert Coordinator to determine if the Amber Alert criteria are satisfied."
(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 the abduction.
(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-enforcement agency.
(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 police.
(g) The secretary, with the assistance of the participating broadcast media, shall develop and undertake a campaign to inform law-enforcement agencies about "Amber's Plan" and the emergency alert program established under this article.
(b) The Secretary of Military Affairs and Public Safety shall also develop a plan to provide for the State Police to monitor and utilize video recording and monitoring devices during an Amber Alert or Silver Alert. This "Guardian Angel Video Monitoring" implementation plan shall include at a minimum, the following:
(1) Utilization of any state or local video recording and monitoring devices upon agreement with the department, agency or political subdivision in control of the video recording device; and,
(2) Development of policies and initiatives relating to facilitating sharing of information with neighboring states wherein suspect vehicles in Amber Alerts or Silver Alerts may be crossing state lines.
(c) The secretary shall submit the plan to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance no later than December 1, 2008. The plan shall include an analysis of all related costs for equipping and using a statewide video recording and monitoring system during the duration of an Amber Alert and recommendations for any additional legislation or actions necessary to further facilitate the implementation of the "Guardian Angel Video Monitoring" program.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.