Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces New System for Receiving AMBER Alerts on Mobile Phones

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is pleased to share with Wisconsin residents the new system by which they now may receive AMBER Alerts through their mobile phones.  AMBER Alerts are distributed to mobile phones through the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) program, operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Mobile phone users with WEA-enabled devices receive the alerts at no cost to them when in the geographic area where an alert has been issued.


When an AMBER Alert is activated in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Justice — Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) notifies the Dane County Public Safety Communication Center, which sends the alert to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for secondary distribution, which includes the WEA program.


“AMBER Alerts notify people of a critical situation and therefore, are never to be taken lightly,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.  “Previously, mobile phone users would need to sign up to receive AMBER Alerts on their cell phone.  While users may opt out of this new system for receiving alerts, I encourage people not to do so, but rather to try to help law enforcement in these urgent situations.”


The system does not need to “know” a user’s mobile number because it simply “broadcasts” the alert for mobile devices within range of the cellular towers in the affected area.  More information about the system, including how to opt out, is available at the following link:

Receiving AMBER Alerts on Your Cell Phone


Any questions about receiving AMBER Alert messages on a mobile phone should be directed to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which manages the secondary distribution of AMBER Alerts.  Contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or visit NCMEC’s website


Additionally, Attorney General Van Hollen wants to remind parents, teachers and caregivers of all Wisconsin 5th graders that the deadline to enter the 2013 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest is approaching.  All Wisconsin 5th graders are eligible to enter the contest by creating a poster to “Bring Our Missing Children Home,” which is the theme of the national competition.


Posters must be received at the Wisconsin DOJ by March 14, 2013. Please send completed posters to:

Susan A. WhiteHorse

DOJ, Division of Criminal Investigation

17 W. Main St.

P.O. Box 7857

Madison, WI 53707-7857


The poster created by the state winner then will compete nationally. The winner of the national contest will go to Washington, DC, to attend the annual National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony and to accept a certificate and U.S. savings bond.  Last year, Andreah Newberry, a fifth grade student at Jefferson Elementary School in Green Bay, won the statewide contest.  Her poster represented Wisconsin in the national competition.


Applicants must be in the fifth grade, and the phrase “Bring Our Missing Children Home” must appear somewhere on the poster. Visit the following link for more details about contest rules, key dates and other resources for educators, participants and others:


Wisconsin’s Clearinghouse for Missing & Exploited Children & Adults develops and coordinates the process for the statewide poster competition. The Clearinghouse also participates in Wisconsin’s AMBER Alert Plan in an effort to enhance law enforcement’s ability to respond when a child has been abducted. The Wisconsin AMBER Alert Plan is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin DOJ, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, Wisconsin Public Radio, the Dane County Public Safety Communication Center, the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin State Emergency Communications System and local law enforcement agencies.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 600 children have been rescued throughout the AMBER Alert program’s 17 years.  Here in Wisconsin, the AMBER Alert has been activated 23 times since the program began in 2003, and has safely recovered more than 30 children.


Each state’s Missing Children Clearinghouse will submit the single winning state poster to the U.S. Department of Justice for final judging. The national judging will take place in April, and one national poster contest winner will be selected for the trip to Washington, DC.