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Amber Alert guidelines simplified

Ontario police now have greater leeway for sounding the alarm in thecritical first few hours of a child’s disappearance under new AmberAlert guidelines spurred by the murder of an eight-year-old girl.

Ontario police now have greater leeway for sounding the alarm in the critical first few hours of a child’s disappearance under new Amber Alert guidelines spurred by the murder of an eight-year-old girl.

The abduction and slaying of Tori Stafford unleashed a torrent of criticism against Oxford Community Police for not issuing an alert after the Grade 3 student went missing outside her Woodstock, Ont., school in April.

The force said the case didn’t meet the criteria.

Previously, police had to confirm a child had been abducted, believe the child to be in danger of serious harm or death, and have descriptive information about the child and a suspect or vehicle.

As of Monday, police will only have to believe, and not confirm, that a child has been abducted and fear that they are in any type of danger.

Authorities can also issue an alert without descriptive information about an abductor or vehicle.

“The Stafford investigation, you could say, was a catalyst to initiate the review, but it wasn’t the only factor that led to the review being called,” said provincial police Insp. Dave Ross.

“We routinely review programs and practices but certainly the case was a catalyst because it brought the program to the forefront.”

Tori’s father, Rodney Stafford, said he was pleased to hear about the changes.
“I think that’s outstanding,” he said.

The Amber Alert program was created in 1996, after the kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas. Her community started it, hoping to prevent future abductions and improve the safety of children.

Ontario’s program was set up in 2003 as a voluntary co-operative between radio and television stations and police and government agencies.

 
 
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