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Explainer: What are the steps of issuing an AMBER Alert in Washington state?

KREM's Taylor Viydo set out to explain how an AMBER Alert is issued in Washington state after the abduction of a Spokane Valley boy on Tuesday.

SPOKANE, Wash. — When it comes to an emergency situation, getting information out quickly and ensuring that the information is correct is essential.

Police investigators said a 5-year-old Spokane Valley boy was taken from his home by his father at 5 a.m. after the father stabbed his estranged wife.

But, the AMBER Alert wasn't sent out until two hours later, leaving some wondering why such a delay took place.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office cannot comment on the specifics of Tuesday's AMBER Alert situation, but they did say that many agencies are involved in sending out these emergency alerts.

What are the steps of issuing an AMBER Alert in Washington state?

First off, there's a statewide plan in Washington that relates to AMBER Alerts authorized by state law. The plan details how alerts go out and who has the final call.

According to Washington's plan, there are five criteria that must be met before an Amber Alert can be issued.

They include:

  1.     The child is known to be abducted and isn't a runaway.
  2.     The child is believed to be in danger.
  3.     The alert is activated within four hours of the abduction.
  4.     There's enough descriptive info, like where the abduction took place, what the child looks like, and what the abductor looks like.
  5.     Finally, the incident has to be reported to law enforcement.

The state's plan doesn't contain any language that makes specific references to parents, relatives, or people with custody playing a role in the abduction.

Typically, if an agency wants to issue an AMBER Alert, that request is approved by Washington State Patrol.

WSP's Communication Center then makes notifications, and then they can extend the alert into other states.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office adds that Amber alerts are a serious thing and that it's a system they don't want to abuse.

RELATED: Suspect who prompted AMBER Alert has history of domestic violence, docs say

RELATED: Stabbing suspect refusing to surrender following canceled AMBER Alert

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