BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Customers of certain wireless providers learned the hard way about a new system that automatically triggers cell phones to make noise when an Amber Alert is issued.
An alert issued just before 2am Monday morning sent cell phones buzzing and ringing throughout much of the state.
Now, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is quasi-apologizing but stressing the importance of the system as it encourages residents who don't want to be woken up to opt out of the program.
The FDLE issued this media release a short time ago:
Late on Sunday, Jan. 13, a two-year-old Immokalee, Fla. child was reported missing and believed to have been abducted. At the request of Collier County Sheriff’s Office, FDLE issued an AMBER Alert. Under the direction of Collier County Sheriff’s Office, a Child Abduction Response Team (CART) of 88 persons from 26 agencies sprang into action to locate the child.
Fortunately, the child was found alive and safe hours later in a field not far from where she went missing, thanks to the dedicated efforts of law enforcement agencies in the area.
FDLE has been notified that many Floridians awoke to a loud AMBER Alert message broadcast to their smartphones via a new national system around 1:45 a.m. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), smartphone customers are automatically enrolled to receive various alerts, including AMBER Alerts.
FDLE has been advised that smartphone owners who want to opt out of these audible alerts can go to their ‘settings’ to turn off the alerts, or if that isn’t possible, to contact their service provider to opt out of the program. For a listing of participating providers and Frequently Asked Questions, please see the link below:
Unlike most alert services, it appears that the Amber Alert system is automatic — meaning customers have to opt-out, and may not know they are subscribed until an alert is issued.
BocaNewsNow.com is not aware of any warning from FDLE to inform Florida residents that the cell phone system was active, and required residents to take action if they did not want to be alerted round the clock to alerts — no matter how valuable that information may be.