By Marla Sowards
Just hours after the return of his daughter Elizabeth – missing since June – Ed Smart urged lawmakers to implement a national Amber Alert system.
“The Amber Alert needs to pass and needs to pass now,” Smart said. “I got Elizabeth back, but there are many out there who do not have their children back.”
The Amber Alert is named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, kidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996, and is also an acronym for “America”s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.”
By coordinating law enforcement and media agencies to rapidly inform the public about kidnapped children, Amber Alerts have fostered quick returns of abducted children. Several states, including Utah, have adopted Amber Alert systems.
Utah”s, named the Rachael Alert after 3-year-old Rachael Runyan, kidnapped and murdered in Utah in 1982, was implemented in March 2002.
Elizabeth Smart”s abduction was the first broadcast on the Rachael Alert system.
“Our Rachael Alert went out right after the abduction,” said Kal Farr, executive director of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. “Rachael Alert is intended to discover an abducted child within the first few hours of the abduction. Statistically speaking, that”s when Rachael Alert is the most effective. If you can find the perpetrator soon after the crime occurs, you have a much better chance of finding that person alive.”
For this reason, some legislators want the Amber Alert to be implemented nationally. Since the disappearance of his daughter, Ed Smart has been a leading proponent of this national Amber Alert system.
“The Amber Alert, for the sake of all the children of America, cannot be held back by you (legislators),” Smart said. Waiting, Smart said, prevents hundreds of abducted children from being helped.
Several of Elizabeth Smart”s aunts and uncles Tuesday night also urged the implementation of the Amber Alert system.
“We would challenge every senator and every congressman to enact the Amber Alert,” said Cynthia Smart-Owens, Elizabeth Smart”s aunt. “The children deserve that and it”s the least that we can do.”