State Police Invite the Public to Participate in National AMBER Alert Awareness Day
The Massachusetts State Police and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will host the fourth annual Massachusetts State Police National AMBER Alert Day Child Safety Fair at the Hall of Fame in Springfield on Thursday, Jan. 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is being held in observance of the 14th annual National AMBER Alert Awareness Day.
The fair will focus on Amber Alert awareness, abduction prevention education, and the preparation of digital child identification kits. State troopers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine, along with officers from the Springfield Police Department will be fingerprinting children and preparing digital child identification kits for parents to use in the event that their child goes missing or is abducted. Thanks to the generosity of the Hall of Fame and Pride Gas Station, the fair is free of charge to those attending with a child. Former Boston Celtics guard Dana Barros will visit the fair at 1 p.m., and various children’s activities will be held.
For the second consecutive year, troopers and officers will distribute DNA buccal swab kits. DNA buccal swab kits are used to collect and store a sample of a child’s skin cells that can be used to confirm identity through DNA comparison. The buccal swab kits being distributed are maintained by the child’s parent or guardian for safekeeping, and can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three years.
The State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force will also lead an internet safety presentation for parents and children in attendance.
National AMBER Alert Day honors the memory of Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996. The AMBER Alert system activates an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases in an attempt to galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child. The AMBER Alert program has proven to represent the best hope for the safe recovery of abducted children and to date is responsible for or has assisted in the recovery of 495 children nationwide. In the seven years since the AMBER Alert program’s inception in Massachusetts, there have been 15 AMBER Alert activations that have recovered 23 abducted children. The program has ensured the safe recovery of all of these children. The success of the AMBER Alert program sends a strong message that crime against our children is grossly unacceptable and that as a society, we will work together to track down perpetrators who prey on children and safely recover the children they intend to harm.
The event will also serve as the kickoff for the 2011 Amber Alert Poster Contest. The United States Department of Justice sponsors this annual poster contest that challenges fifth grade students to develop posters that represent America’s united goal of bringing missing children home safely. The winning poster from each state will be displayed at the National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony held in May. The National winner will travel to Washington D.C., along with his/her parents and teacher, to receive an award and participate in the National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony.