A new FEMA program took many by surprise last night with one of the first Amber Alert distributed via cell phone to hit San Francisco.
The following message was distributed statewide as part of the program rolled out earlier this year to assist law enforcement with apprehending kidnappers:
“Boulevard, CA AMBER Alert UPDATE: LIC/6WCU986 (AC) Blue Nissan Versa 4 door”
According to an Associated Press report in February, “The newly-expanded emergency alert system is an effort by FEMA to update the way it reaches people with new technologies, but local officials and others worry that the lack of public education and some initial stumbles may undermine the program’s purpose, especially when people are startled and annoyed and choose to opt out.”
Law enforcement concerns weren’t completely unwarrented as #AmberAlert became a trending topic on Twitter with many iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 users startled by the unusual alert ringtone. In addition to Amber Alerts, FEMA will distribute information on extreme weather, regional emergencies and presidential alerts during a national emergency with the program.
The alert is for Hannah Anderson, 16, and Ethan Anderson, 8, who law enforcement officials believe were kidnapped by James Lee Dimaggio in rural San Diego. He is believed to be traveling to Canada or Texas with the children.