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Emergency Alert System did not alert cell phones about Amber Ale - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Emergency Alert System did not alert cell phones about Amber Alert

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TUCSON-  Three Marana kids at the center of this week's Amber Alert are in state custody, but many people were left with the same question, why wasn't an Amber Alert sent to phones?

State and local authorities claim the system worked. The children were found and police arrested the person responsible, their mother who did not have legal custody, is in the Gila County Jail, facing 15-charges.

However, parts of the system didn't work.

No one was notified via their mobile phones. Art Brooks, the chairman for  Arizona Amber Alert, said " That's one small piece. The real piece for Arizona is the texting and email which is an op in system.  Anybody that wants to receive it can.  We have thousands of people in Arizona that includes media that they have opted in to http://azamberalert.org/ “

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is responsible for sending out the Amber Alerts thru the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

Brooks said, "There was a glitch with the license plate within that system. That is a very sensitive system. Specific characters have to be put into the system. It was missing a few numbers and that's why it did not take off.”

The Arizona  Department of Public Safety is responsible for putting out the Amber Alert and passing on that information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Brooks added,  they have activated  the Amber Alert 93 times since 2002. 

"While there's 92 safe recovery of children with suspects in custody there is one open case," Brooks said.

Another component of the Amber Alert system notifies the media of the missing children. It's done by activating what is known as the Emergency Alert System that's when you see a crawl on the bottom of your TV screen.

News 4 Tucson never received that alert, and neither did any of the other TV stations here in Tucson, nor any of the radio stations News 4 Tucson spoke with.  

A question we asked Art Brooks." The EAS system works fine.  I don't have the privilege of going out to each county to see if they received it and which ones didn't. We do know it went to that area and stations may not have their boxes programmed to receive that. I don't know, I don't know the answer to that question." 

It's also a question we asked the Arizona Department of Public Safety.  They told News 4 Tucson, that they couldn't answer because at this time they just didn't know. 

However, they are meeting on Monday with their partners to discuss the alert, and to determine what went wrong, what went right, and whether there could be some improvements.

We will let you keep you posted.

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