ALEA challenged for not issuing AMBER Alert in Bessemer case - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL


ALEA challenged for not issuing AMBER Alert in Bessemer case

(Source: WSFA) (Source: WSFA)

People arriving at the Red Rock One Food Mart in Bessemer Thursday expressed relief that a 19-month-old in the back seat of a stolen car was found safe.

“It was shocking,” Jackie Sparks said as she talked with friends.

Moriah Rudolph was in the back seat of her mother’s car when police say 32-year-old Jimmy Lee Wells walked up to the vehicle, got in and drove off. Surveillance video shows the child’s mother rushing to the car as it drove away.

The incident happened Wednesday shortly before 8 p.m. In the coming hours, police released the video and images of the baby and Wells.

The question many people asked Thursday in Bessemer: Why was an AMBER Alert not issued?

“Seconds count. Seconds count,” Outcast Voters League President Frank Matthews said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

“Who was the person in Montgomery who said this baby did not warrant an AMBER Alert,” Iva Williams asked.

While Bessemer police requested an AMBER Alert, ALEA, which determines whether to issue an AMBER Alert, issued an Emergency Missing Child Alert shortly before midnight.

Under the missing child alert, law enforcement and media are notified, but the alert is not sent through the Emergency Alert System.

In a statement, ALEA said “the incident did not meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert.”

The full statement detailed the criteria for both:

ALEA is aware of the concerns over last night’s Emergency Missing Child Alert from Bessemer.  ALEA did everything according to protocol.

Understand that when a child goes missing, ALEA must act quickly to get that information out there fast and gain assistance from the public via media.  ALEA determines what type of alert should be issued, if any, based on the information provided by the local agency.

Last night’s incident met the criteria for an Emergency Missing Child Alert which include:

  • Law enforcement believed a child was missing
  • Law Enforcement reasonably believed that child was in danger
  • There was sufficient information available to help locate that child

The criteria for an AMBER Alert requires that:

  • A child has been ABDUCTED as defined by 13A-6-40 of the Alabama Criminal Code
  • The child is at risk of serious bodily harm or death
  • There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to give the media to help locate that child.

The incident last night did not meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert. It did meet the criteria for the Emergency Missing Child Alert.

Based on our plan, working with Bessemer Police and following those procedures, the information was released and that child was located safely. 

Rudolph was found unharmed in the stolen vehicle around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Wells has been charged with kidnapping and theft of property.

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