91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How and why that AMBER Alert woke you up at night

An amber alert on a phone
Flickr user Tony Webster/Flickr

A carjacking involving a 3-month-old child Monday morning in Detroit led to an AMBER Alert. This incident and other recent incidents throughout the state have raised some questions: Under what circumstances are AMBER Alerts issued? Who receives them? How do we get them?


Sarah Krebs is a Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant. She’s the state AMBER Alert coordinator and the Missing Children’s Clearinghouse manager.

Krebs joined us to explain how the State Police department issues AMBER Alerts.


Krebs said there is a multitude of criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert. First of all, “the child has to be an endangered missing child under the age of 17.”


The child, Krebs said, must be reported to law enforcement with one or more of the circumstances:


  • The child suffers from a severe mental or physical disability that greatly impairs the child’s ability to care for him- or herself;
  • The child is a victim of a stranger or acquaintance kidnapping
  • The child is in the company of a person who has a confirmed criminal history of child abuse or neglect, sexual assault, domestic assault, a crime involving the victimization of children, or has made statements of intent to harm the missing child or is suicidal;
  • The child has been abducted by a noncustodial parent, whose parental rights have been terminated by a court.

While receiving AMBER Alerts on their cell phones can be annoying to some, they can result in the rescues of missing children.


Krebs described an instance where an AMBER Alert succeeded in the recovery of a missing child. In a situation similar to the one in Detroit earlier today, a resident of Westland, Michigan received the Wireless Emergency Alert on his phone and decided to look for the missing child in neighboring Romulus. He found the vehicle described in the AMBER Alert, and his actions led to law enforcement’s recovery of the child.

Krebs said the investigations that accompany AMBER Alerts are fluid.


“There’s ever-changing information coming in,” she said. “So, something that may not hit AMBER one day can hit it at a later date.”

Listen to the interview above to learn how, when and why AMBER Alerts are issued.