Ontario Provincial Police say they’ll continue to do everything in their power to disseminate information about abducted children in the province, despite complaints from some people who received Monday’s Amber Alert via their cell phones.
The alert, about an 8-year-old boy in Thunder Bay who was later found safe, went out over the new mobile emergency alert system.
And while the problem in Thunder Bay was that many people did not receive the notification, in southern Ontario, others complained about receiving an alert about an incident so far away.
“It was disheartening to hear some of the complaints,” said Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, provincial media relations coordinator for the OPP.
“And for that five second or 10 second interruption that people have received across the province, to alert them of a child that has been abducted, it’s a life-saving message that may have repercussions for this child for a lifetime.”
In the past, Amber Alerts sent out on radio or TV have been issued “more regionally, to the area that they pertained to” Dionne said. But when it comes to mobile phones, she said it makes sense to cast a wider net.
“With the wireless network, now it’s province-wide. And the reason for province-wide is we could be anywhere with our cellular device. I could be a subscriber from the East region of the province, but I’m visiting family and friends in … Thunder Bay. I’m going to get that Amber Alert.”
It also takes time for an Amber Alert to be issued, she said, and in that time people can travel significant distances.
Although concerns have been raised about the new mobile alert system, Dionne said OPP consider Monday’s efforts a success.
“The information was disseminated through all the resources available to us … and a few hours later the child was located safely.”
“Just the fact that he was located, for us that’s successful.”