Yes, that’s right; the Amber Alert argument is still alive and thriving.
Since Amber Alerts started being shared with cellphones across Canada as part of the emergency alert system in 2018, some residents have found reason to complain about the alerts, particularly when they come in the early morning hours. In February of this year, after an Amber Alert was issued for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, hundreds of residents called 911 to complain about being woken from their sleep. Rajkumar’s case ended in tragedy, with the young girl being found dead a few hours after the alert was issued. Following this case, campaigns were launched to educate the public on the dangers of bogging down 911 phone lines with non-emergency calls. This should have been the end of the matter.
However, since then, there have been a few other Amber Alerts, and each time they’ve been sent out, 911 has still received calls from residents complaining of being disturbed or having their sleep interrupted.
This has become such a persistent issue, a petition has begun circulating in Toronto to initiate a new law that charges people who call into 911 to complain about Amber Alerts.
Now, could the Amber Alerts system be improved? Of course it can, because the residents of SD&G and GPR can probably do very little for an abducted child in Toronto.
Adding to the problem, police continue to receive requests from individuals asking to opt out of the Amber Alerts. The problem with that is, if you have the option to opt out of receiving the notification, it defeats the purpose of the alert. If too many people choose the option to not receive the notifications, then not enough people would be on the lookout for the child that was abducted. The search radius would decrease at an alarming rate.
Choosing to not receive the Amber Alert is simply not an option because the safety of a kidnapped child is more important than getting a full night’s sleep. We all need to be a little more understanding, community minded and think of the big picture here; the safety of children is the most important thing.