SPOKANE, Wash. --- Following the Amber Alert about a missing 6-year-old girl in Spokane, many people wondered why it took more than four hours for an Amber Alert to be issued.

KREM 2 learned that issuing an Amber Alert is actually a complex process. When a child goes missing it does not mean an Amber Alert will be issued.

To make sure Amber Alerts get the attention of the public, they are issued sparingly.

Before an Amber Alert is issued, authorities said they have a checklist to see if the case qualifies for an alert. Police must make sure an actual abduction happened and believe the child is in immediate danger. Amber Alerts are also only for people who are 17-years-old or younger.

After authorities have decided the child was abducted and is in immediate danger, they must come up with descriptive information about the victim.

Authorities must enter all of the information about the child into a crime database. After all of those steps have been completed, an Amber Alert can be issued.

As you might imagine, that is the reason why some Amber Alerts are issued hours after an abduction has happened.

While it did take more than four hours for an Amber Alert to be issued for the Spokane Valley girl, KREM 2 learned that is not necessarily a long wait.

According to the Justice Department, more than half of all Amber Alert activations happen within six hours of when a child goes missing.

Between Washington and Idaho, there were only nine Amber Alerts in all of 2014.