New upgrades to the Pennsylvania Lottery's self-service terminals will aid efforts to recover abducted children through the state's Amber Alert system, state officials announced Jan. 13.
Pennsylvania State Police acting Commissioner Jon D. Kurtz and Lottery Interim Executive Director Drew Svitko marked National Amber Alert Awareness Day by announcing that the Lottery now has the capability to show Amber Alert details and photos of abducted children and suspects on the 17-inch flat-panel displays used by more than 8,700 retail locations across Pennsylvania.
"The Lottery's system for distributing Amber Alert messages has come a long way since we first partnered with the state police in 2004," said Svitko. "Previously, the Lottery sent basic details of abductions to its retail network and asked retailers to print the text-only messages out on Lottery ticket stock for distribution to customers. Now, within minutes of the state police activating an Amber Alert, a missing child's picture and other identifying information can be displayed at convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, bowling alleys and grocery stores in all 67 counties. We hope this upgrade will assist the public in recognizing an abducted child as soon as possible."
Kurtz said that during the past nine years, the state's Amber Alert system has played a direct role in the safe recovery of 32 abducted children.
"These children were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury," he said. "Members of the public often provide the crucial information that leads to a child's safe return. The more people who are made aware of a missing child, the more likely it becomes that the child will be returned home safely."
Kurtz reminded Pennsylvanians that they can receive electronic notifications on abducted child cases via the state's alert system, known as AlertPA.
"AlertPA provides emergency alerts, notifications and updates about Pennsylvania Amber Alerts and other emergency situations to cell phones, pagers, smart phones, PDAs and e-mail accounts," Kurtz said.
He encouraged individuals to register for an AlertPA account direct-ly through at alert.pa.gov or through www.amber.state.pa.us. Individuals with preexisting accounts now can modify their subscription to include Pennsylvania Amber Alerts.
The Pennsylvania Amber Alert System, which was established in 2002, provides information about child abductions through radio and television broadcast messages, Lottery retail terminals, digital billboards, highway advisory signs, text messages and e-mails.
In addition to the Pennsylvania Lottery, other agencies and organizations that partner with state police in operating the Amber Alert System are the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania, Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, Outdoor Advertising Association of Pennsylvania and AlertPA.
"The partners play key roles in building public awareness of the system, providing training to law enforcement officers who use the system, and implementing revisions in the system that result from legislative changes," Kurtz said.
For more information, visit www.amber.state.pa.us or call (717) 783-5556.