Is it a needless interruption or a valuable life saving tool
Thousands of New Yorkers were awoken early Wednesday morning when their cell phones began blaring because of an amber alert notifying them of a missing child.
Accompanied by the screeching tones employed by the emergency broadcast system a message appeared on cell phones across the five boroughs that read 3 51 am AMBER Alert Manhattan NY Amber Alert UPDATE LIC/GEX1377 (NY) (1995) Tan Lexis ES300.
New York police said that a 7 month old boy had been snatched by his biological mother Marina Lopez 25 from a Harlem social service facility on Tuesday afternoon. Lopez who police said was bipolar was deemed a threat to the child s well being and and the cell phone Amber alert was issued in New York City for just the third time in the past year.
RELATED BI POLAR MOM ABDUCTS SONNew York Times Amber alerts automatically sound on phones purchased after 2011.
When a child under the age of 18 has been abducted and is in imminent danger of death or serious harm immediacy can help save lives a public information officer for the New York State Police which issued the alert told the Daily News in an email.
By Wednesday afternoon the boy had been located and returned unharmed to the Harlem facility where he lives police said leaving some residents to question whether the automatic alert was necessary.
While I am sensitive to the importance of Amber alerts a 4 a.m. emergency alarm causing momentary panic and ruining a night's sleep over a domestic matter involving a child and his biological mother seems way over the top Brooklyn resident Sam Erickson 46 told the Daily News. I know that the federal government added amber alerts to the list of things that would be blasted out on the system but either that is a bad idea or they need to be more selective about which ones and when.
Others were more sympathetic to the Wireless Emergency Alert program.
RELATED DAD LOOKED AWAY TODDLER WENT MISSING COPSBates Susana Freelancer Police said the child was found unharmed and returned to the Harlem center where he lives.
I actually thought oh wow that s a great tool that it sends out a text message. I didn t even realize I was signed up for that so there you go Jacqueline Kirwin 24 said. I thought it was helpful and it s a good way to reach the masses. Everyone has their cell phone and everybody has it nearby and it s I think it s a good thing.
Brooklyn mother Rebecca Bauer 45 agrees.
I thought it was spam. Then I got a second. Scared the crap out of me. Bauer said. I get extreme weather alerts why not that
Many New Yorkers do not realize that if they purchased a cell phone after 2011 it is automatically set to receive the emergency alerts such as those issued during Hurricane Sandy. Those too however can be altered.
Cell phone users can opt out of receiving WEA messages the New York State Police told the News. Most cell phones are now automatically enabled depending on your cell phone provider. For instructions on how to opt out of the program customers should contact their cell phone provider.