WICHITA, Kansas – On Wednesday, KSN questioned local law enforcement agencies and media providers to take a closer look at why it took so long to issue an Amber Alert for 10-year-old Hailey Owens.
KSN found that the problem comes down to communication and when information is sent across state lines.
Springfield police responded to the reported abduction at 4:48 p.m., and by 6 p.m., an Amber Alert was issued throughout Missouri.
By 7 p.m., it escalated to a multi-state Amber Alert in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, but then there was a time gap.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigations sent out it’s email notifying media of the alert at 8:28 p.m.
Shortly after that, police in Springfield made their first contact with the suspect Craig Wood, but the information about the missing child didn’t hit the air until almost 9 p.m in Wichita.
“A lot of times in abductions, they aren’t sticking around locally, they’re gonna get on the road and so regionally,even nationally if it goes, extends for time. It’s important to get that out to as many people as possible,” said Lt. Doug Nolte, Wichita Police Department.
While the multi-state Amber Alert was issued to find 10-year-old Hailey Owens around 7 p.m., there are several steps to get that information across statelines.
What starts in the town of Springfield, goes to Missouri officials, then Kansas officials and then to a hub to be distributed to you, through the media.
“The alert was sent out in Missouri in the 7′o clock hour. Then, we received our first alert at about 8:30 here at WIBW, and then, when we distributed that information, it was at around 8:50 because we had to then record somebody from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation with the alert information,” said Shawn Wheat, Child Abduction Response Team.
KSN asked what the delay was about.
Officials say the problem could be a number of factors, one being that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation wasn’t informed that a multi-state Amber Alert was issued until 7:30 p.m. and while they don’t want to be critical, they have questions.
“I believe that is a legitimate question that Springfield, Missouri should be able to provide an answer for. What was the delay because we were aware that the abduction occurred at 4:48 pm, and it was quite some time after that that the Amber Alert was actually activated,” said Mark Malick, KBI.
While there are some questions about the effectiveness of the current Emergency Alert System, police do want to emphasize that Amber Alerts are put in place in addition to their own investigations as a way to get the public’s help.