AMBER Alert guidelines changed after missing child found in Alabaster

MONTGOMERY- Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Acting Secretary Hal Taylor recently revised the state’s AMBER Alert guidelines after a missing 19-month-old from Bessemer was located in Alabaster on Thursday, April 20.

“It is the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s goal to rescue abducted and missing children. By expanding our criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert, we will further that goal, and hopefully, make sure that as many vulnerable children as possible are protected from those whom would do them harm,” Taylor said in a press release from Gov. Kay Ivey’s Office.

According to Sgt. Cortice Miles from the Bessemer Police Department, the BPD requested that the ALEA issue an AMBER Alert after they received reports of a stolen vehicle with the child inside. However, the request was denied because the situation did not meet the previous requirements for an AMBER Alert.

Miles said the BPD received word that a vehicle containing 19-month-old Moriah Rudolph was reported as stolen on Thursday, April 19 at around 8 a.m. The BPD enlisted the help of the Alabaster Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, among other agencies, in order to find the child and the suspect, Jimmy Lee Wells.

While the child has since been safely returned to her family, Miles said she had been missing for eight hours before she was found.

On Friday, April 21, Taylor announced that the finding of an “abduction” is no longer required for AMBER Alerts to be issued.

Taylor said the ALEA will withhold certain information if it could potentially tamper with an investigation, but will release as much information as necessary under the new guidelines.

“Due to ongoing investigations, we may not always release why an alert may or may not be issued, but we will ensure that all cases are evaluated against this new standard,” Taylor said.

According to the press release, the new guidelines were put in place effective April 21.

“We need to protect the children of our state,” Ivey said. “This change today ensures that we are keeping the public better informed. AMBER Alerts give Alabamians the opportunity to be involved in caring for our most valuable asset, our children.”

If necessary, local law enforcement agencies are encouraged to immediately contact the emergency contact the 24-hour Alabama Missing Person’s Hotline at (800) 226-7688.

The public can sign up to receive AMBER Alerts on the ALEA’s website, Alea.gov. The new guidelines are also available to the public at Amberalert.gov/guidelines.htm.