STFU: Ontarians continue to complain about receiving Amber Alerts

Jul 25 2019, 1:42 pm

Early Thursday morning, Ontario’s eighth Amber Alert of the year was issued.

According to Brantford Police Service, the alert was issued just after 3 am in search of two-year-old Heather McManus, who police believed was abducted by her 37-year-old father, Sean McManus.

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The initial Alert stated that the victim was with a 37-year-old man, and both were last seen on Thursday, July 25 at 12:18 am leaving Brantford in a vehicle with 2 adult female occupants.

Luckily, police said that the child was located safe just before 4:30 am.

However, despite the importance of the alerts, people continue to complain about receiving the brief – yet crucially important – disruption.

During the early hours of Thursday morning, numerous Ontario residents took to social media to complain about the alert, which is often the main reason a child is located during an abduction.

“Surviving on only a few hours of sleep thanks to heart attack-inducing 3 a.m. Amber Alert wake up call. Is there a way to disable them?” wrote one user on Twitter.

Another user criticized the entire Amber Alert system and called it “ineffective”, while others simply complained about being disrupted by the loud alert.

This follows the launch of an online petition that’s calling on the Ontario government to fine those who call 911 to complain about receiving the alerts.

The consequence of calling 911 amidst an Amber Alert is life-threatening as legitimate callers with real emergencies are unable to get through.

Started by Dalia Monacelli, the petition has already received 78,000 signatures at the time of publication.

“After the latest Amber Alert I read the umpteenth reminder from the Toronto police operations to ‘not use the 911 line for anything other than emergencies.’ That was when I said enough is enough,” said Monacelli in a statement.

“People have to understand that when they dial 911, they are taking time and personnel away from actual emergencies and that these actions could cost lives.”

Monacelli said that her two-year-old son was the inspiration for her starting the petition, which calls for Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey to take action.

“I imagined what it would be like if my two-year-old son went missing and we lost an opportunity to get him back because someone was complaining about the alert. I knew I needed to try to put an end to this selfish and dangerous behaviour.”

Similar to the previously issued alerts, residents are still failing to understand the significance of an Amber Alert and continue to react poorly to it.

According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCFCP), an Amber Alert can only be activated by police agencies and is only issued for the most dangerous child abduction cases, when time is of the essence.

While criteria for issuing an Amber Alert may vary from province to province, basic requirements include:

  • The child is under the age of 18;
  • There is a belief that the child has been abducted;
  • There is a belief that the child is in imminent danger;
  • There is information to be released that may help locate the child and/or the abductor (e.g. description of the child, the suspect or the vehicle driven by the abductor)
  • An Amber Alert must also be issued “within a reasonable amount of time” from the moment of the abduction.

You can take action and sign the petition here.