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Virginia State Police adds social media platform to Virginia alert resources

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Since the Virginia General Assembly established Virginia’s first missing person alert program in 2003 with the Virginia A.M.B.E.R. (for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert, the Virginia State Police has taken advantage of the ever-evolving landscape of communications technology to reach broader audiences as quickly and effectively as possible.

This year the Virginia State Police added @VSPalerts on Twitter to its existing notification platforms.

“Just as the types of alerts have expanded over the years, so too have our means of notifying the public,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Every second counts when it comes to safely locating an abducted child or endangered adult or a missing child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Thus, it is imperative that an alert’s key details be disseminated across as many diverse communications channels as quickly as possible.”

Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has established five missing persons alerts: Virginia AMBER Alert (2003); Virginia Senior Alert (2007); Virginia Blue Alert (2011); Virginia Critically Missing Adult “Ashanti” Alert (2018); and the Virginia Missing Child with Autism Alert (2020). State code designates the Virginia State Police as the operator of each alert for the purpose of identifying that each alert’s criteria is met and an activation is justified.

An AMBER Alert triggers activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts , @VSPalerts and the Virginia State Police Twitter and Facebook pages, changeable message boards and a series of other communications/notification systems. For those instances where not all AMBER Alert criteria can be satisfied, the state police will initiate an Endangered Child Alert. This alert still enables the Department to bring the necessary attention to the missing and endangered child’s situation across traditional and social media platforms.

Since each program’s inception, Virginia has activated a total 62 AMBER Alerts, 181 Senior Alerts, 33 Endangered Child Alerts, 10 Endangered Adult/Ashanti Alerts and one Blue Alert.

Additional background information on each alert program is available at www.vaamberalert.com/VSPalerts-background.htm.

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