SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Over the weekend marked 20 years since Illinois’s first America Missing Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) alert.

Illinois’ first AMBER alert was issued on Nov. 26th in 2002 in LaSalle, Illinois. Now, entire communities in the state are alerted when they receive an alert on their smart devices.

“When a child goes missing, every second counts,” Illinois AMBER Alert Coordinator Craig Burge said. “That is why the AMBER Alert Program’s greatest tools are the eyes and ears of the public.”

The Illinois AMBER Alert Task Force is a voluntary partnership made up of several groups including law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, the Illinois Press Association, the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Lottery, and the National Weather Service to create an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases. The Alerts are broadcast through TV, radio, road signs, and smart devices. 

Of the 118 alerts broadcasted in the 20 years, 67 recovered children have been directly found from the alerts and the message has indirectly help find 22 more. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have also found that nationwide, alerts have helped find 1,100 people nationwide.

“This program is unlike many others because it is a public partnership,” Burge said. “Citizens in Illinois can take pride in the fact that they can help each and every time a child is abducted by simply being aware of their surroundings and reporting what they see to law enforcement officials.”

To learn more about AMBER alerts in Illinois, you can visit this website.