RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) – Virginia State Police has expanded their tactics to warn the Commonwealth about abducted or missing children, missing seniors, and critically missing adults through social media.
“Just as the types of alerts have expanded over the years, so too have our means of notifying the public,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Every second counts when it comes to safely locating an abducted child or endangered adult or a missing child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Thus, it is imperative that an alert’s key details be disseminated across as many diverse communications channels as quickly as possible.”
Over the years, the Virginia General Assembly has established five missing persons alerts: Virginia AMBER Alert in 2003, Virginia Senior Alert in 2007, Virginia Blue Alert in 2011, Virginia Critically Missing Adult “Ashanti” Alert in 2018, and the Virginia Missing Child with Autism Alert in 2020.
Officials say the state code designates the Virginia State Police as the operator of each alert for the purpose of identifying that each alert’s criteria is met and an activation is justified.
“An AMBER Alert triggers activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), @VSPalerts and the Virginia State Police Twitter and Facebook pages, changeable message boards and a series of other communications/notification systems,” Virginia State Police said in a statement on Thursday, April 29. “For those instances where not all AMBER Alert criteria can be satisfied, the state police will initiate an Endangered Child Alert. This alert still enables the Department to bring the necessary attention to the missing and endangered child’s situation across traditional and social media platforms.”
Since each program’s launch, police say Virginia has activated a total of 62 AMBER Alerts, 181 Senior Alerts, 33 Endangered Child Alerts, 10 Endangered Adult/Ashanti Alerts, and one Blue Alert.
For more information about the individual alert programs, click here.