Zero Plus 324
30 Million Sentinels Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, August 2--California just created over 30 million Sentinels of
Vigilance. The act more than likely saved the lives of two 16-
and 17-year-old girls, abducted, raped and then hauled into the desert to
be shot, killed and buried.
The two girls owe their lives to many
people, all of whom entered the Era Of Vigilance yesterday as the State of
California, with a population exceeding 30 million, searched for the
abductor using a new system called Amber Alert.
A few specific people form the
headwaters that set into motion events that saved the girls from death's
grip. The first is a 9-year-old girl named Amber Hagerman.
In 1996, Amber was
abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas. Parents and media
personnel from the local community launched a major grass-roots campaign to alert the population of a child
abduction, employing radio, television and emergency warning systems to
broadcast any child's abduction.
The system grew into what is now called the Amber
Alert. It alerts local law enforcement agencies and
broadcasts on radio, television and emergency networks, news of a missing
child, 17 years or younger, suspected of being in danger by her abductor.
It also includes flashing signs on freeways normally used to signal drivers
of traffic and weather conditions.
Just a week ago, Gray Davis, Democratic Governor
of California, authorized the use of the Amber Alert emergency systems
throughout his state. The decision, prompted by ongoing
pressures from local representatives and the public over the rash of
recent kidnappings and deaths of young children such as five-year-old
Samantha recently taken from her front yard and killed, rocketed
California's citizens into a state of Vigilance. Amber Alert is heralded as being
directly responsible for the saving of the two kidnapped Lancaster girls'
But this story isn't about tooting Gray Davis'
horn. The horn that should be tooted is that of George
Runner, Republican Congressman from Lancaster, California, who was the
driving force behind pushing the Amber Alert System into effect throughout
California. Ironically, the first time it was used was to save the
two girls from his hometown of Lancaster.
The teens were parked with their boyfriends in a
"Lovers Lane" area close of Lancaster.. Neither knew the other.
The kidnapper/rapist shoved a gun at the boyfriends, tied them up, and
took the girls.
Putting the Amber Alert into motion, police,
government authorities and the media pumped the news over the what is
called America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response, AMBER.
Besides radio and television bulletins, the system also flashed the plight
of the missing girls on freeway message boards, including the description
of the stolen truck the kidnapper had taken from one of the boys he tied
A Caltrans flagman working on a highway construction
site was listening to the radio and heard the Amber alert.
Moments later he saw the Bronco pass by and scraped the license number
into a nearby patch of dirt, then called the California Highway Patrol.
Simultaneously, an animal control officer,
also alerted by the Amber broadcast, spotted the stolen white Bronco on a
dirt road that traverses the White Blanket Indian reservation, a desolate
area the police believe Roy Ratliff, a convicted felon and the kidnapper,
was taking the girls to kill and bury them. Police gave chase
in vehicles while helicopters swarmed above. The ordeal ended when
police shot Ratliff and rescued the girls.
This isn't the first time AMBER has been responsible for
saving a life. Seventeen abductions have been thwarted by the
system. In one case an abductor who heard his car being described on
the radio stopped and let his victim out, fearful of being caught with
her in his vehicle.
According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a
division of the FBI, over 840,000 abductions occurred in 2001 (725,000
were children). That averages out to more than 2,000
abductions a day.
The majority of missing children are "runaways," followed by "lost,
injured or otherwise missing children," then "family abductions," which
represent 355,000 per year, and finally, the most dangerous of all,
"non-family abductors," estimated to be 4,600 per year--12 per day.
side of NYC Bus
John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted," is a key
advocate of the Amber System. After his son was abducted and
murdered in 1981, he helped create the National Center For Missing &
Exploited Children (NCMEC). In 2001, the organization promoted the
AMBER program within its system.
Congress is now considering a bill that would nationalize the
program. Currently, each state elects whether to implement it.
A number have, many haven't.
What the AMBER system represents to me, is an act of
National Vigilance. The system started in Texas and is spreading.
California, the nation's largest populated state, just realized the
benefits of it. In the Polly Klass case, her abductor
had the child in the trunk. Police officers stopped to help the
abductor get his car out of the ditch, unaware there was a kidnapping in
progress. Many propose that had AMBER ALERT been in effect,
the police might have been more Vigilant, but they were unaware, and
proceeded to help the "citizen" who eventually killed the little girl.
Vigilance is, in my opinion, not about the
government doing its job, it's about the government reminding citizens of
their job. Each citizen in any nation is responsible for
all other citizens. That's why we have laws and attempt to
Ultimately, a safe and sound society is one that
looks out for each other. Any small neighborhood is an example
of the AMBER ALERT system. If the community bands
together and works as one to protect its members, especially its children,
it will effect protection systems that become the duty of "all," not the
Terrorism's greatest side effect is Complacency.
When people abdicate their responsibility to protect their community at
the local, district, regional, state and national level, the door swings
open to any and all who wish to inflict Fear and Intimidation on any
person, or group of persons.
The ultimate in Terrorism, of course, is the pain
and suffering inflicted by an adult upon a child. No
Terrorist, regardless of how many adults he or she killed, can equal one
who brutalizes, tortures, molests and kills a child.
That kind of Terrorism is multiplied thousands fold--representing far more
devastation to human morality than all those adults lost on Nine Eleven.
I believe the AMBER ALERT system is a huge drop in a
big bucket of Vigilance from which America needs to drink heavily.
It is a system reminding us all, old, young, rich, poor, from all ethnic
backgrounds, from all diverse social and economic levels, that we must
become one when it comes to the safety of our children--the safety of any
Vigilance is about instilling Courage where Fear once
ruled, Conviction where Intimidation sprouted its weeds, and Right Action
where Complacency masked duty and obligation to others.
AMBER ALERT is a flashing signpost of Vigilance.
It demands we toss out our Complacency and turned Vigilant Eyes toward the
safety of children. It makes us duty-bound as Citizens of
Vigilance to be deputized as Sentinels of Vigilance, ever wary of those
who might rape, pillage, plunder our most precious asset--our children.
In California it made a Caltrans
construction worker scrawl a license plate in the dirt and call the
police. It snapped the head of an animal control officer in
the desert to report a white Bronco containing the two captured and raped
girls who were heading toward certain death.
AMBER ALERT made a California Congressman
push for legislation and action from a Governor, who, regardless of
critics, made a decision to put in effect a system that calls upon the
average citizen to support his or her community.
Vigilance is on the move. It is
growing, evolving. We are heading toward a community that will
band around its children, form a wall of Vigilance so tightly knit, and
purfled with Vigilance that no Terrorist would dare to enter.
If we are to defeat Terrorism,
both from abroad and within, then we should look at AMBER ALERT as the
keystone that supports our Arch of Vigilance, and through which we can
pass and shed our Fears for Courage, our Intimidations for Convictions,
and our Complacencies for Right Actions.
If you haven't yet, take the Pledge
of Vigilance. Become a Citizen of Vigilance. It will be
your AMBER ALERT to thwart Terrorism.
For more information on finding lost or reporting abducted
Go To Aug. 1--Grandparents
Protecting Children From Terrorism
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