By Taylor Brim, Ozarks News Journal

The Amber Alert signal is a sound no parent wants to hear. So when parents want action, and action fast, they rely on the Amber Alert.
But the Amber Alert in January for a missing boy from Hartville, Missouri is a reminder that a lot of time can pass before the beep. That boy is safe now, but it took six hours of searching until an amber alert was officially released.
That’s because authorities are required to follow a check list before releasing an amber alert. Sergeant Jason Pace for the Missouri State Highway Patrol explains.
“It has to meet the criteria,” said Sergeant Pace. “First off, there has to be an abduction that occurs, or by definition a kidnapping. Secondly, there has to be a child age 17 years or younger.”
Next on the list is “Did the kidnapping involve an act of violence?” Fourth, there must be a fear of harm or death to the child. And finally…
“There has to be enough information to forward to the public, the media, and try to get a quick recovery of that child. Whether it be descriptive information of the car, the suspect information, the child, so on and so forth,” Sergeant Pace explained. “All of those point have to be met in order to forward it on as an Amber Alert.”
A short list, but is the backbone for a parent’s answered prayer. Tony Ary, a student at Missouri State University and father of two, said it’s important for parents to be aware of these types of protocols.
“I was previously not aware of the checklist with the Amber Alert,” Ary said. “I wasn’t sure how extensive the process was. I do think it’s very important to be aware. Fortunately, I have not been in that situation but if I was in that situation and I needed to call that in, it’s very beneficial for me to know the steps I need to take so I can get that done as quickly as possible.”
Authorities suggest staying prepared by keeping updated pictures of your children as they grow older or get a new hair cut.