Amber Alert improved

Amber Alert improved

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The story of slain Evansdale girls Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins helped inspire a recent change in the issuing of Amber Alert protocol in Iowa.

The loosening of Amber Alert restrictions centers on one word, allowing increased flexibility to issue an Amber Alert earlier. Since it was created in the 1990s, the Amber Alert program has been tied to the rescue of hundreds of kidnapped children.

Should the legacy of the Evansdale cousins include helping save more, it would be fitting.

An Amber Alert was not initially issued for the missing cousins because procedure dictated that police needed more evidence of an abduction or a description of a vehicle.

Locally, there had been a call to change protocol in issuing the alerts. A petition for a "Cousin’s Law" was circulated. The goal was to create more urgency when a child disappears, perhaps prompting actions such as vehicle checkpoints within an hour.

Some change came after state officials decided last month to strike "and" from the following Amber Alert guidelines: "There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help."

The change means authorities issuing an Amber Alert need a description of only one of the following: the child, the child’s abductor or the abductor’s vehicle.

In the Evansdale case, local authorities were not able to issue an Amber Alert earlier because police did not have any suspect information.

This seemingly small alteration can translate to big changes in how quickly Amber Alerts can be issued. We are grateful for that.

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