Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 26, 2019
‘Stop harassing citizens’: Brantford police receive angry response to Amber Alert
Stop unnecessary and health damaging alerts to people asleep. Respectfully, do your job and stop harassing citizens. What in the **** are you thinking?
These are just a sample from the flood of angry messages Brantford, Ont., police have received after issuing an Amber Alert overnight Thursday to help find a two year-old girl who investigators say was abducted by her estranged father.
The child was ultimately found safe in Hamilton and returned to her mother, but the police service says complaints from the public have continued to roll in by email and through calls to 911, and dispatch.
One person has even called them about the alert 11 times and is now being investigated for a potential public mischief complaint, according to police.
The response has been so overwhelming, Insp. Scott Williams with the investigative support branch issued a statement addressing concerns about the use of Amber Alerts. He described them as a way to quickly spread the word about an abducted child who may be in danger.
“The main objective of the Amber Alert is always the safe return of the child,” he explained.
“Time is critical in saving the lives of abducted children, and with time comes a growing geography of concern. Once a child is abducted there is no way to determine the exact location the abductor is headed.”
Williams says the investigating began before the alert went out and continued after it was issued. Police follow strict guidelines that ensure Amber Alerts are used appropriately, he said, adding the decision to send an emergency broadcast to the entire province is never taken lightly.
Backlash has followed every Amber Alert issued in Ontario this year, though the broadcasts also have plenty of supporters.
A petition has even been launched calling for the Ontario government to fine people who call emergency dispatchers to complain about broadcasts of Amber Alerts. (CBC)