Cell phone Amber Alerts restricted

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s Amber Alert Steering Committee says no more alerts like the one that woke many Ohioans Tuesday morning will be sent to cell phones overnight.

From now on, those alerts will not be issued between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., Lt. Anne Ralston of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

An alert for two West Virginia children believed brought into Ohio by their abductor automatically triggered a message with a loud tone to phones across the state, part of the new Wireless Emergency Alert program instituted by wireless providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Ralston said.

Ohio Amber Alerts are frequently issued with the Patrol’s technical assistance.

The WEA program is an update to the Emergency Alert System, which is used by radio television and cable broadcasters to communicate emergency presidential messages, extreme weather emergencies, and AMBER Alerts.

Since the new system was implemented later last year, Ralston says several states have limited the use of the WEA to specific hours when the general public would be out and on the road.

Ralston says all new WEA capable cellular phones are automatically enrolled to receive these messages though users who wish to opt-out can contact their service provider.

Ohioans are “encouraged to keep the program active, considering the adjustment in operational hours, so they can possibly help find a missing or abducted child,” Ralston said.

The decision to limit use of the Amber Alert WEA to the hours between 6:00 a.m. and midnight will be discussed further at the next committee meeting and permanent hours will be implemented.

For questions regarding the Ohio Amber Alert Program, call 614-728-1355.

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