Why was there no AMBER Alert for missing Massillon baby?

Why wasn't AMBER alert issued over missing Massillon 7-month-old?
Malachi's grandmother, Angela Ferguson is in police custody. (Source: Massillon police)
Malachi's grandmother, Angela Ferguson is in police custody. (Source: Massillon police)

MASSILLON, OH (WOIO) - Early Friday morning Massillon Police put out a news release trying to find a 7-month-old child that had been missing for almost 24 hours.

The child was eventually found safe, with the grandmother and she was taken into custody.

The child was last seen with the grandmother on Thursday but police have not yet said why she hadn't returned the child, or why she is now being held by police.

You didn't get an AMBER Alert on your phone in this case and there are a couple of reasons why.

There is a list of criteria that have to be met before an alert can be issued.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice website (DOJ), the need for criteria, "...is designed to achieve a uniform, interoperable network of plans across the country, and to minimize potentially deadly delays because of confusion among varying jurisdictions."

It's also to make sure the system doesn't get overused and the public becomes desensitized to alerts.

"Overuse of the AMBER Alert system will undermine its effectiveness as a tool for recovering abducted children," the DOJ website explains.

This is why the AMBER Alert system is not used in cases where children are believed to have run away from home.

Breaking down the criteria in the Massillon case:

Law Enforcement Confirms an Abduction- While this may sound like an easy criterion to meet, it often times isn't.

If a child is missing, there's needs to be proof of an actual abduction.

Was there a witness to the abduction? Is there video showing an abduction? Is there some evidence left behind like a note or a phone call?

In the Massillon case, according to police, the child was with the grandmother on Thursday. We have been given no indication that she took the child by force.

Risk of Serious Bodily Injury or Death- To send an alert there must also be a reason to believe the child is in physical danger.

Obviously, in the case of a stranger abduction this is a given.

But in the case of a family member taking a child, or simply not bringing a child home, this criterion may not be met.

Sufficient Descriptive Information- The reason this criterion is so important is an alert will not mean much if it's sent out saying a child was taken, but we can't tell you by whom or in what kind of vehicle.

A description is needed for both the child and the suspect.

In the Massillon case this criteria would have been fully met because they knew who the grandmother was, and the child.

Age of Child- The age recommendation to issue an AMBER Alert varies from state to state, so the federal system sets the age at 17 or younger.

In the Massillon case this requirement would have been met.

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