Amber Alert goes national

| 4/14/2003

Legislation creating a nationwide system to help find kidnapped children and impose tougher penalties on child abusers, kidnappers and pornographers is awaiting President Bush's signature, The Associated Press reported.

Congress April 10 passed the package of child safety laws, including a provision to go national with the popular “Amber Alert” child kidnapping notification network.

The House passed the bill 400-25 only hours before the Senate concurred with a 98-0 vote. Bush promised to sign the bill as soon as possible.

“The safety and well-being of our children is a shared priority for all Americans,” the president said in a statement. “We must use every available resource to find and safely return missing children to their families and their homes, and we must use every available tool to vigorously prosecute and punish those who would do our children harm.”

The measure was sought by the family of Elizabeth Smart, who was recovered in March after being taken from her bedroom in Salt Lake City last year. The national network would be named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl abducted in Arlington, TX, and later found murdered.

The legislation would provide matching grants to states and communities for equipment and training for the network, which will quickly distribute information about kidnapped children and their abductors through radio and television broadcasts and electronic highway signs.