TBI: No increase in Endangered Child, AMBER Alert cases - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TBI: No increase in Endangered Child, AMBER Alert cases

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Over the weekend, the TBI issued an Endangered Child Alert for a missing East Ridge teenager.

He was found safe at a friend's home in Hixson.

Related story: Endangered East Ridge teen found in Hixson

Channel 3 looked into whether more cases are being filed and if any procedures are changing.

It may seem that more Endangered Child or AMBER Alerts are being issued, but the TBI said this is nothing new.

TBI spokesman, Josh DeVine, said several hundred kids go missing every month in Tennessee.

Officials said the alert system is working and point to how many kids are reunited with their families.

"The public might think that there's been a recent uptick in these sorts of cases, but the fact of the matter is we're having these conversations with local law enforcement agencies every single day," DeVine said.

Those conversations include talking about what options they have to find a missing child.

DeVine said only local law enforcement agencies can ask the TBI to issue an alert, not parents.

"We have to have a system in place. We have to have policies and protocols, so that when we issue either an Endangered Child Alert or an AMBER Alert, it means the most that it can to the public," DeVine said.

The TBI can take three steps in finding a child and they do not have to be taken in any order.

As a first step, the TBI will post about the missing child on their website.

When there is some concern for a child's well-being, an Endangered Child Alert is issued.

For the most serious of cases, an Amber Alert will go out and it can take some time.

"It's not like there's a gigantic red button at TBI headquarters that someone just hits on the wall to issue an amber alert , it's a process," DeVine said.

That includes making phone calls, alerting the National Weather Service and TDOT, and speaking with their agents.

When an Endangered Child Alert is issued, that doesn't necessarily lead to criminal charges. That changes if it's elevated to an amber alert.

"Often times with AMBER Alerts, it's a different situation where there's an individual who is believed to have often kidnapped a particular child, but with an Endangered Child Alert, it's more about trying to provide information to the public so that we can get that child home because that's the primary concern," DeVine said.

Bottom line, the TBI says AMBER Alerts work.

DeVine said more than nine in every ten kids at the center of an AMBER Alert are found. 

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