ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota has issued six AMBER Alerts since the state launched its system for finding missing children just over a year ago, and six children have been found. And since it began, officials have worked to improve the system.
Minnesota's first AMBER Alert was on New Year's Day, when a van was stolen in St. Cloud with a baby inside. The alert system was not a factor in their recovery, however. The best known case might be an 11-year-old girl taken from St. Cloud in May who was found in Utah by a Highway Patrol officer who had just learned of the alert.
Under an AMBER Alert, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension releases information about suspected kidnappings of children 17 years old or younger to the news media, law enforcement agencies and businesses.
New legislation now gives broadcasters legal protection in case an Amber Alert contains bad information.
Jim du Bois, president and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, said radio and television executives had been worried about being sued if authorities put out bad information.
"The broadcaster, or anybody disseminating that Amber information, essentially publishing it, would have been liable for that erroneous information," du Bois said. "And we just wanted some protection in place to help out broadcasters -- (to) make sure that they were not subjecting themselves to any potential liability."
Most importantly, du Bois said, broadcasters wanted to know the system would be used only when needed.
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