*8News Reporter Tim Wronka talked with Amber Alert advocate Rev. Charles Williams and the mother of the young man whose murder sparked the "Chip Ellis Bill." Hear from them tonight on 8News at 6 PM.*
Richmond, VA—Sunday is national Amber Alert Awareness Day, and 8News recognized the occasion by talking with Amber Alert advocate Rev. Charles Williams, and reflecting on a local case that expanded the power of Amber Alerts.
The Amber Alert system was enacted in 1996, and was sparked by the kidnapping and murder of a 9-year-old girl, Amber Hagerman. Broadcasters in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas teamed up with police to create an early-response system to help find abducted children.
Rev. Williams says he relayed to officers that a system like the Amber Alert could help add many eyes and ears on the case of a missing child.
Every state now has Amber Alert legislation; specific cases pertaining to Amber Alerts in various states can be found here.
Rev. Williams, a father of four, says the disturbing crime made him wonder what could be done to stop it from happening again.
"It struck a chord with me…how would I respond to something like that, had it been one of my own children?" he said.
The Amber Alert system is now allows smartphone users to receive Amber Alerts tailored to certain areas.
"We're really excited about the expansion of the Amber Alert," says Rev. Williams.
Here in Virginia, an amendment to the Amber Alert was signed by then-Governor Tim Kaine in 2007. The "Chip Alert" extends the power of the Amber Alert, allowing alerts to be sponsored for high schoolers who have reached their 18th birthdays.
"Chip Alerts" were formed after a Midlothian High School senior, Chip Ellis carjacked and killed by a classmate in 2006.
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