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Why missing Indy infant is a Silver Alert and not an Amber Alert

Missing Baby Silver Alert.JPG
Posted at 9:18 AM, Mar 20, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis infant is still missing and police are asking for the public's help to find her, but the big question on most people's minds is why was a Silver Alert issued for the 8-month-old instead of an Amber Alert?

MISSING INFANT | 8-month-old believed to be in extreme danger

Amiah Robertson's mother told police she last saw her child on Thursday, March 14. Police took a missing persons report from the mother on Saturday, March 16 and a Statewide Silver Alert was issued by Indiana State Police on Tuesday, March 19.

So why not an Amber Alert?

Amber Alerts are generally activated for kids who have been abducted or who are in danger and only if police have detailed information about a suspect. Those Amber Alerts trigger a massive response, including text messages, a message on the INDOT highway boards, social media and an announcement on television and other media channels.

In order for an Amber Alert to be activated, the following criteria MUST be met:

  • There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred
  • The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child
  • The victim of the abduction is a child aged 17 years of younger
  • The child's name and other critical elements, including Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center system

What's different about a Silver Alert?

Silver Alerts were previously only issued for "vulnerable adults" who were believed to be in danger, but a 2018 law expanded the Silver Alert program to include "missing endangered children" which means any child who is believed to be incapable of returning home without assistance because of mental illness, intellectual disability or another physical or mental disability.

Silver Alerts get a news release, social media and media attention.

READ | Missing endangered children now included in Indiana Silver Alert criteria

The change in law also resulted in an overall shift in the Silver Alert criteria:

  • Person must be a missing endangered adult, missing endangered child, high risk missing person or have a mental impairment validated through a credible medical authority (physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner)
  • There must be enough descriptive information to believe the broadcast will help
  • Law enforcement must make the request
  • The person will be added to the Indiana Data and Communications System/National Crime Information Center

Law enforcement only use the Amber Alert in the most extreme cases, because they don't want people to ignore the alerts when they are issued.

Since 2015 there have been 39 requests for Amber Alerts in Indiana, only 20 of them have met the criteria. In that same time frame there have been 255 requests for a Silver Alert, with 182 of them meeting the criteria to issue one.

Indiana State Police offer the following recommendations regarding any missing person:

  • Contact local law enforcement immediately
  • Consider using social media to spread the word
  • Routinely keep updated images of your children and immediate family members
  • Routinely keep in contact with those who may be suffering from a mental or physical impairment
  • Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678

Anyone with information about Amiah's disappearance should contact IMPD Missing Persons at 317-327-6160, 317-327-3811 or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-8477.