FirstPic, Inc., together with Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC), under the direction of the Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, is implementing the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Initiative to establish and expand child recovery practices, capacity and resources. As part of this initiative, 12 geographically diverse pilot sites were chosen and have created or implemented their own AMBER Alert system. Reporting of missing, abused, endangered, or abducted children is relatively low in Indian Country. Limited resources and capacity within tribal communities to report and respond to incidents of missing children contribute to this situation. There is also a limited understanding of the AMBER Alert Program as well as the partnerships needed to create an effective AMBER Alert plan for tribal communities. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, FirstPic, Inc. and FVTC accomplished the following goals set forth by the initiative:
- Completed needs assessments of selected tribal pilot sites and each site’s capacity to implement an AMBER Alert system.
- Designed and developed implementation plans.
- Developed strategic plans for each site to address missing and abducted child issues.
- Enhanced capacity and capabilities of tribal law enforcement.
- Enhanced tribal knowledge and decision-making ability related to AMBER Alert.
- Awarded funds to pilot sites.
- Produced AMBER Advocate newsletter for Native audiences.
- Prepare and provide a report for publication on the status of child protection resources in tribal communities.
Future efforts include development and implementation of a tribal child protection conference, further research to identify the correlation between family violence and high risk victims, creation of AMBER Alert systems with additional tribes, and provision of training for communication call center staff.
To provide insight into public safety communications needs, FirstPic, Inc. and partner FVTC initiated a comprehensive assessment to determine the capacity and capability of the AMBER Alert in Indian Country tribal pilot sites. The assessment reviewed communications infrastructure for minimum capabilities to effectively take public safety emergency calls, dispatch public safety first responders, support investigative efforts, and monitor and track data related to missing, abducted, and endangered children. The assessment teams consisted of subject matter experts in public safety and Native American community program management. Each of the tribal pilot sites completed a self-assessment to augment the findings. The outcome of the assessment provides the fact-based foundation for important funding and policy direction and consideration.