What is the Wisconsin AMBER Alert Plan?

The AMBER Alert is an emergency child abduction alert. Its purpose is to save the life of a child.

Wisconsin's AMBER Alert Plan is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, Wisconsin Department of Revenue—Division of Lottery, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and local law enforcement agencies.

An AMBER Alert disseminates information to the public about the abduction of a child as rapidly as possible. The broadcast will contain descriptive information about the child and the abduction. Citizens with information can then contact the appropriate law enforcement agency using the telephone number listed in the alert.


Criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert:

  1. Child must be 17 years of age or younger
  2. Child must be in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
  3. Initiating agency must have enough descriptive information about the child, the suspect and/or the suspect vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help locate the child.

Notes: AMBER Alert is not to be used for runaways or family abductions unless the child's life is in danger.

The AMBER Alert plan is for the safe recovery of missing children that a law enforcement agency believes have been abducted and are in danger of serious bodily harm or death. Strict adherence to the criteria is essential in order to prevent the AMBER Alert plan from losing credibility and becoming less effective.

Process for issuing an AMBER Alert:

AMBER Alert must be requested by the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction. The local law enforcement agency must have reason to believe the child has been abducted. All municipal, county, and tribal law enforcement agencies are included in Wisconsin’s AMBER Alert Plan. 

The initiating law enforcement agency requests an AMBER Alert activation. Instructions for doing so are available to all Wisconsin law enforcement on WILENET.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice will determine whether to issue the alert based on the criteria and status of the investigation.

The AMBER Alert will be activated utilizing the following methods:


  • Emergency Alert System (EAS)over television and radio stations. The EAS is broadcast every 30 minutes for the first two hours of an active alert, then every hour for the next three hours. 
  • Wireless Emergency Alert System (WEA): broadcast directly to individual cellular telephones located in the broadcast area. In most cases, a WEA will be issued only once per AMBER Alert activation.
  • AMBER Alert Wisconsin website
  • Highway message boards
  • Lottery terminals
  • Wisconsin Crime Alert Network. Sign up for email alerts here: https://wisconsincrimealert.widoj.gov/ 

When an AMBER Alert is cancelled, the cancel notification will remain on the AMBER Alert Wisconsin website for 24 hours..

Note: Not all AMBER Alerts are issued statewide. Regional broadcast is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Why was the AMBER Alert Plan Created?


Amber Hagerman


In January 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted in Arlington, Texas, in broad daylight with witnesses. Despite intensive police, FBI, and media involvement, Amber’s body was recovered four days later. Her murder remains unsolved. 

In her memory, and that of abducted children nationwide, the state of Texas developed the first AMBER Alert Plan to aid in the recovery of abducted children. Since that time, all 50 states have developed their own AMBER Alert Plans.

While the plan is named in honor of Amber Hagerman, AMBER is also an acronym that stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.