Only a law enforcement agency can issue a regional or state Amber Alert. If your child is missing, please contact 9-1-1 immediately and then Get Help here.
If you are a law enforcement officer and your agency needs to issue an Amber Alert, please contact
(713) 409-2720 or page (713) 787-7466 immediately for 24/7 support and issuance assistance.
As the administrator of the Houston Regional Amber Alert Program, Texas Center for the Missing staff often get calls from family members and friends of a missing person requesting an Amber Alert issuance. We wholeheartedly understand the urgency and desire to spread the word of a missing loved one as fast as possible, but often we have to explain exactly what and how the Amber Alert operates. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions on the topic.
Can I call Texas Center for the Missing and request an Amber Alert?
Only law enforcement can request an Amber Alert be issued. When a case qualifies for an Amber Alert, an officer from the law enforcement agency in charge of the case will contact us, we will process the request and case information, and will have the Alert issued within minutes. If you wish to report someone missing, please contact your local law enforcement agency first before contacting TCM. After you have reported the missing person to law enforcement, you can then Get Help Now.
Who qualifies for an Amber Alert?
The Amber Alert is a specific public alert system made only for children ranging from 0-17 years of age. Anyone 18 years or older can not have an Amber Alert issued on their behalf. There are two missing adult alert systems available for specific demographics, with the Endangered Missing Person Alert serving adults with developmental disabilities and the Silver Alert serving individuals over the age of 65 and diagnosed with dementia. Learn more about the Endangered Missing Person Alert and the Silver Alert.
I often see Amber Alerts posted on the electronic highway signs. Does TCM do that?
The Texas Department of Transportation operates the highway traffic signs around Houston. They post both local and state Amber Alerts and statewide Silver Alerts, but only those alerts that have car identification information. TxDOT receives all of our local Alerts but they have complete discretion on which ones are posted to Houston highway signs.
I sometimes get notifications on my cell phone about local Amber Alerts. Does TCM do that?
The emergency and Amber Alert notifications you receive on your cellular devices is solely controlled by your cellular carrier. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children receives all state and local Amber Alerts, including alerts from the Houston Regional Amber Alert, and on a national level they make the decision to release the information to your cellular carrier. Your carrier in turn decides to release it to your specific network based on the location of the alert. For the Houston area, we have requested that no alerts be sent to cellular devices before 6am or after 11pm. You can often control in your cell phone’s settings whether or not you would like to receive these notifications. If you can not see how to turn on or off these notifications, you can either contact your cellular carrier or look in your cell phone’s instructional manual to determine the exact method for your device.
I heard of one case in which a non-custodial parent took off with their kids. Why wasn’t an Amber Alert issued?
In every missing child case law enforcement must make the decision whether or not the case qualifies for an Amber Alert, and not all cases do. An Amber Alert can only be issued for cases where there is a confirmed abduction, the child is believed to be at risk of bodily harm, and there is enough descriptive information about the child and abductor to be released to the public. Often parental abductions or potential runaway cases do not meet the qualifications of an Amber Alert.
Why are there so many restrictions on Amber Alert issuance?
The Amber Alert is highly regulated in order to keep it as effective as possible in relocating children thought to be in immediate danger. When you see an Amber Alert has been issued, you can be confident that this is a child abduction case of high urgency that warrants public attention.