Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 52. Police (State)
Subtitle .
Chapter 7.1. Virginia Amber Alert Program
9/25/2022

Chapter 7.1. Virginia Amber Alert Program.

§ 52-34.1. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

"Abducted child" means a child (i) whose whereabouts are unknown, (ii) who is believed to have been abducted, (iii) who is 17 years of age or younger or is currently enrolled in a secondary school in the Commonwealth, regardless of age, and (iv) whose disappearance poses a credible threat as determined by law enforcement to the safety and health of the child and under such other circumstances as deemed appropriate by the Virginia State Police.

"Amber Agreement" means the voluntary agreement between law-enforcement officials and members of the media whereby a child will be declared abducted, and the public will be notified, and includes all other incidental conditions of the partnership as found appropriate by the Virginia State Police.

"Amber Alert" means the notice of child abduction provided to the public by the media or other methods under an Amber Agreement.

"Amber Alert Program" or "Program" means the procedures and Amber Agreements to aid in the identification and location of abducted children.

"Media" means print, radio, television, and Internet-based communication systems or other methods of communicating information to the public.

2003, cc. 83, 86; 2007, c. 198.

§ 52-34.2. Establishment of the Virginia Amber Alert Program.

The Virginia State Police shall develop policies for the establishment of uniform standards for the creation of Amber Alert Programs throughout the Commonwealth. Amber Alert Programs may be local, regional, or statewide. They may include multiple localities or regions and may be expanded or compressed. The Virginia State Police may (i) inform local law-enforcement officials of the policies and procedures for the Amber Alert Programs set by the State Police; (ii) assist in determining the geographic scope of a particular Amber Alert; and (iii) establish procedures and standards by which a local law-enforcement agency may verify a child has been abducted and report such information to the Virginia State Police.

The establishment of an Amber Alert Program by a locality and the media is voluntary and nothing in this chapter shall be construed to be a mandate that local officials or the media establish or participate in an Amber Alert Program. Existing Amber Agreements and Programs shall not be altered by the act of assembly creating this chapter.

2003, cc. 83, 86.

§ 52-34.3. Activation of Amber Alert Program upon an incident of child abduction.

A. Upon receipt of a notice of a child abduction from a law-enforcement agency, the Virginia State Police shall confirm the accuracy of the information and provide assistance in the implementation of the Amber Alert Program as the investigation dictates.

B. Amber Alerts may be local, regional, or statewide. The initial decision to make a local or regional Amber Alert shall be at the discretion of the local or regional law-enforcement officials. Prior to making a local or regional Amber Alert, the local or regional law-enforcement officials shall confer with the Virginia State Police and provide information regarding the abducted child to the Virginia State Police. The initial decision to make a statewide Amber Alert shall be at the discretion of the Virginia State Police. The Missing Children Information Clearinghouse operated by the Virginia State Police shall serve as a central repository for information related to an abduction.

C. In those situations where appropriate, the Virginia State Police shall send the Amber Alert to Virginia's emergency alert system. Participating media are encouraged to issue the alert at designated intervals as specified by the Amber Alert Program.

D. In those situations where appropriate and an existing system is available, the Virginia State Police shall contact the operator of the existing automatic dialing-announcing device system to target residents in the geographic location where the abducted child was most recently seen. For purposes of this section, "automatic dialing-announcing device system" means a device that (i) selects and dials telephone numbers; and (ii) working alone or in conjunction with other equipment, disseminates a prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called.

E. The Amber Alert shall include such information as the law-enforcement agency deems appropriate that will assist in the safe recovery of the abducted child.

F. The Amber Alert shall be cancelled under the terms of the Amber Agreement. Any local law-enforcement agency that locates a child who is the subject of an alert shall notify the Virginia State Police immediately that the child has been located.

2003, cc. 83, 86; 2004, c. 270; 2007, c. 130.