LOVELAND, Ohio — When four-month-old Kaylynn Crawford’s father called police Sunday night to report that she was missing, they immediately opened an investigation — but, as many WCPO viewers noticed, they did not issue an Amber alert.
According to local authorities, first responders and investigating officers have a long checklist they must go through before an Amber alert can be issued.
The first and most obvious requirement is that the victim be a child under 17 and in immediate danger.
Another, though, is harder to quantify: police must have enough information about a suspect or vehicle that releasing this information to the public would be helpful. If details are too vague, police may waste time fielding and investigating completely unrelated calls made by people who want to help.
“(We need to make sure) there’s enough of a description that can actually be useful and not cause an information overload for the police,” said Chief Matt Fruchey of the Fairfield Township Police Department, who has served as an Amber alert regional coordinator for Tri-State police. “If all the description we have is a white vehicle northbound on I-75, that’s not enough for us to work with because there will literally be thousands of them.”
More specific information, such as notable details about a vehicle or a few numbers of the license plate, can be enough to make a case eligible for an Amber alert.
The guidelines are constantly reviewed to strike a balance between public safety and not overwhelming the law enforcement system, Fruchey said.
In Crawford’s case, an Amber alert would likely not have been helpful. Authorities now believe that her father fabricated the kidnapping; he has been charged with aggravated murder in connection with her death.