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Breaking down the difference between a City Watch Alert, Amber Alert

At least fifteen people have been missing since Oct. 1 and seven of them were children. Not all of them got an Amber Alert.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There have been at least 15 people reported missing by MPD in the past 6 weeks. That's about three missing people per week. Almost all of those were only issued a City Watch Alert except two of those cases. 

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Amber Alerts are for the most serious missing children cases, in which law enforcement believes the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death.

In order to issue an AMBER Alert, the following criteria must be met:
1. The person is 17 years of age or younger, and;
2. The child is in imminent danger of bodily injury or death, and;
3. There is a description of the child, the abductor, or vehicle, and;
4. On a request from another state for activation, there is a direct and identified nexus to the state of Tennessee, and that information is conveyed to TBI at the time of the request.

TBI is the only organization that can issue an amber alert for the state. 

An endangered child alert covers a wider variety of situations and circumstances. These alerts are issued in cases where children may be in danger because of a custody dispute or if a disabled child wandered away and might put themselves in danger. 

MPD said a city watch alert is a Memphis Police Department computerized messaging system. Alerts will be issued on any missing, runaway, or throwaway child who is endangered or in imminent danger of bodily harm. These alerts sometimes are sent out in voice messages and emails and through local media.

There are several factors MPD considers before issuing a city alert. 

  1. A City Watch will be issued on any missing, runaway, or throwaway child who is endangered or in imminent danger of bodily harm.
  2. A City Watch can also be adapted and issued for a missing and endangered adult.
  3. Factors to Consider When Issuing the City Watch
    1. Is the person twelve (12) years of age or younger?
    2. If the person is thirteen (13) or older, consider the following factors:
    3. Is the person believed to be out of the zone of safety for his/her age and/or developmental stage?
    4. Is the person mentally incapacitated?
    5. Are there medical needs that are vital in saving a life?
    6. Is the person drug dependent, including prescribed medication and/or illegal substances and is the dependency life-threatening?
    7. Is the person believed to be in a life-threatening situation?
    8. Is the person believed to be in the company of individuals who could endanger his/her welfare?
    9. Is the person’s absence inconsistent with his or her established patterns of behavior and the deviation not readily explained?
    10. Are there other circumstances involved in the disappearance that would cause a reasonable person to conclude that the person should be considered “at-risk?”

According to MPD there have been 682 people reported missing this year alone, 668 have been found. If you have any information on any missing person cases you can call the Memphis police department or TBI at 1800-TBI-FIND. 

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