The reason AMBER Alerts are not issued for every missing child - KCTV5 News

The reason AMBER Alerts are not issued for every missing child

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File photo. File photo.

When we get an AMBER Alert at KCTV5, we put the information on-air as quickly as possible to get the word out.

In the case of a missing Wichita infant, no amber alert was issued and many are wondering why.

Police have said that the infant is a week old and that her name is Sofia Victoria Gonzalez Abarca. They have also released a picture.

However: There was no AMBER Alert issues for Abarca.

"It does not meet the criteria by KBI to issue an AMBER alert,” said Sgt. Nikki Woodrow with the Wichita Police Department. “So we're going with media, social media, you guys; it's been shared thousands of times."

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it didn’t meet the criteria on Thursday night. Here’s what the criteria are:

  • There has to have been a child abduction.
  • The person abducted has to be 17 or younger.
  • There must be a reason to believe that victim is in imminent danger.
  • There must be sufficient information that could help save the victim and/or catch the suspect.

That last criterion is key.

Michael Tabman, a former FBI special agent, said he agrees with not issuing an AMBER alert in Abarca's case because, with no suspect or vehicle information, the information police have on the victim is just not enough.

“Most babies at that age don't have distinguishing features that any one of us can look around and say, ‘Oh, that's the baby that's missing,’” Tabman said.

He adds that releasing an AMBER Alert prematurely can end up hurting the investigation instead of helping.

“Their concern is the public,” Tabman said. “Being well-meaning by trying to do the right thing will flood them with calls and leads and that will keep them from trying to chase down the really hot leads because they'll be flooded with leads they'll have to act upon.”

Related story:

FBI joins search for missing Wichita newborn whose mother was fatally shot

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