Six weeks ago the VA State Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 12 year-old girl named Brittany Smith and posted pictures of the missing child on the VA State Police Facebook fan page. With the click of a button, photos of Brittany and a description of the suspected kidnapper and his vehicle were released to 24,000 people via Facebook. Five days later, a woman who had seen the Facebook link recognized the missing girl and the suspect outside a store in San Francisco and the child was safely returned to her father in VA.
Col. W. Steven Flaherty of the VA State Police Department stated that they “…wouldn't have had nearly as many leads to help them in this case had it not been for the sharing of this info among Facebook fans…Social media certainly enabled law enforcement to reach beyond our borders – to find the endangered child.”
Today, 53 AMBER alert pages have been created on Facebook (one for each state, Puerto Riceo, D.C., & the U.S. Virgin Islands) and with a half-billion Facebook users, the new pages signify an important expansion of the National AMBER Alert program.