Cellular South urging customers to sign up for AMBER alerts

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Published: January 17,2011

Tags: children, crime, kidnapping, law enforcement, telecommunications

RIDGELAND — Cellular South, the largest privately owned wireless provider in the U.S., is joining forces with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to encourage mobile phone users in Mississippi to sign up for free wireless AMBER alerts that can help law enforcement safely recover abducted children.

The wireless AMBER Alert program is a voluntary partnership between the wireless industry, law enforcement agencies and NCMEC to distribute an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases to consumers and businesses who opt in to receive free text messages on their wireless devices.

“These life-saving messages have the potential to reach 96 percent of the public with more than 292 million mobile phone subscribers in the U.S. and more than 15 million mobile phones active in Mississippi,” said Jim Richmond, director of Corporate Communications for Cellular South. “This week marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of National AMBER Alert Awareness program and our goal is to educate and encourage all wireless users to register to receive the free alerts and increase the number of people who may be able to help in recovering abducted children.”

Since its creation in 1997, the AMBER Alert program has led to the safe recovery of 525 abducted and missing children in the U.S., according to Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. “Wireless AMBER Alerts are a powerful, effective tool to mobilize the public’s help in the search for child abduction victims. They work and cost virtually nothing,” Allen said.

“Since its creation, the AMBER Alert has been about safely reuniting children with their loved ones should the unthinkable happen. The AMBER Alert not only notifies law enforcement, it brings together media, businesses and citizens statewide for that common goal,” said Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephen B. Simpson. “Through the hard work of our investigators at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the AMBER Alert system is an invaluable tool. We look forward to this continued partnership in the future.”

Since its creation in 2005, nearly 700,000 cell phone users nationwide participate in the Wireless AMBER Alert program, including an estimated 10,000 mobile phone users in Mississippi. “We want to continue to encourage consumers and businesses across the state to sign up to receive free text messages when a child has been abducted in their area and join the effort to help reunite that child with their family,” Richmond said.

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