Mississippi is initiating an Amber plan through the state emergency management agency. Instead of duplicating those efforts, Harrison County will coordinate its program with the state's. Harrison County's E-911 Director says getting the system up and going is in the works.
"There's work that we have to do here locally and that's what we're doing now is makin sure we have I's dotted T's crossed all of our policies and procedures in place so when it's time to move we're ready and we can conduct the training that's necessary with the different participating agencies," says Gil Bailey.
A child abduction is the only time law enforcement declares an Amber Alert. In our case the alert will come from the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Jackson.
Alfred Sexton of the Gulfport Police Department says, "It's not gonna delay anything by the alert coming from Jackson. We certainly will follow the same protocol as if the alert was right here in Harrison County."
The alerts are then passed on to the public through television and radio airwaves. The Amber system is new to Mississippi and officers say training will be important to meet FCC requirements.
"After an Amber Alert is activated on the media networks, within 30 minutes you have to have a press release of why the system was activated and what is going on and those are things that are gonna require coordination with the agency that requests the activation," says Bailey.
Bailey and Sexton say activating the Amber Alert depends on how quickly the state and local agencies can update equipment and complete the necessary training. Spokesperson Warren Strain of the Mississippi Highway Patrol says everything to launch the system is in place with the exception of one piece of equipment from the phone company. Strain says that should arrive within two weeks.