• Albertans Angry Over Amber Alerts



    First, the good news: an 8-year-old-boy who was abducted last Friday was found unharmed the next morning. More on that story herethis story, however, is about Canada's rather contentious alert system.

    As CityNews Vancouver reports, there was no shortage of complaints about the alerts on social media, some more legitimate than others. Many of the complaints centered on the loud alarm that accompanied the alert; an easy fix for that would be to put your phone on silent before you go to bed (or whenever you don't want to be disturbed), but that's not always possible—for myself it was only a few years ago when I needed my phone ringer on full volume during the night in case there was an emergency with an ailing family member.

    An interesting alternative to our current emergency alert system was posted by a redditor on the thread where I found the source:

    When I lived in the States before moving up here, their method of Amber Alert was pretty simple: a text message. The tone was the same one your phone was set to for an SMS message (and it didn't charge you if you didn't have SMS allowance), it had all of the vital information, and guess what? It worked.
    This arguably more elegant solution has since been "upgraded" to an alert system similar to ours, one which famously (and erroneously) warned Hawaiians of an incoming missile strike last year.

    Sources: @CstSmith, CBC, CityNews Vancouver via reddit, The Verge

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Albertans Angry Over Amber Alerts started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Mr.Peppermint's Avatar
      Mr.Peppermint -
      Ironic as they issued another Amber Alert today (from Markham) which caused the Ontario 911 centres to get flooded with complaints (again, second time in past two months)

      I really think the police are abusing this system. These are not kidnappings. They are civil disputes (custody battles) between parents.

      The entire system was implemented in memory of Amber Hagerman who was abducted by a stranger and then brutally murdered.
      Its also odd that in the USA the carriers allow people to opt out of Amber Alerts while up in Canada when the Big3 went to CRTC they were forced to implement the current system.
    1. @Class's Avatar
      @Class -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Peppermint View Post
      I really think the police are abusing this system. These are not kidnappings. They are civil disputes (custody battles) between parents.
      Exactly this.

      Emergency alerts should only be used for real emergencies; tornadoes, floods etc. Amber alerts - you can put that on highway signs / subway displays.
    1. Mr.Peppermint's Avatar
      Mr.Peppermint -
      Even more irony

      The last Amber Alert was a FALSE Amber Alert

      The woman LIED to police, they issued alert, found father, and gave an APOLOGY

      I would personally sue the department + mother for defamation and libel since his name & info was plastered on every cell phone in the province

      Tons of news reports about it
    1. mch's Avatar
      mch -
      Allowing people to opt out, as in the states, seems a reasonable compromise.
    1. SnowyWhite's Avatar
      SnowyWhite -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Peppermint View Post
      Ironic as they issued another Amber Alert today (from Markham) which caused the Ontario 911 centres to get flooded with complaints (again, second time in past two months)

      I really think the police are abusing this system. These are not kidnappings. They are civil disputes (custody battles) between parents.

      The entire system was implemented in memory of Amber Hagerman who was abducted by a stranger and then brutally murdered.
      Its also odd that in the USA the carriers allow people to opt out of Amber Alerts while up in Canada when the Big3 went to CRTC they were forced to implement the current system.
      I don't know about the carriers in the US allowing people to opt out.

      But it is a setting in my phones that allows it.

      Had one go off last week and it woke me up.

      That one woke up and annoyed a lot of people in my vicinity.

      I had not yet changed the settings in that phone.

      But I did right after the alert woke me up.

      I'm in Michigan in the US.

      Sent from my Luscious LG Fiesta 2
    1. Mr.Peppermint's Avatar
      Mr.Peppermint -
      Quote Originally Posted by SnowyWhite View Post
      I don't know about the carriers in the US allowing people to opt out.

      But it is a setting in my phones that allows it.

      Had one go off last week and it woke me up.

      That one woke up and annoyed a lot of people in my vicinity.

      I had not yet changed the settings in that phone.

      But I did right after the alert woke me up.

      I'm in Michigan in the US.

      Sent from my Luscious LG Fiesta 2
      The settings (act that entire menu) are disabled by law up here
      I'm sure there are some Canadians with US unlocked phones (heck even Chinese ones as well) but majority of us getting way too many alerts for nonsense things (eg a custody dispute between parents over 500KM - thats over 300 miles away for you Americans)
    1. Mr.Peppermint's Avatar
      Mr.Peppermint -
      As officers were scrambling to find a missing 11-year-old Brampton girl who was the subject of an Amber alert last month, operators at the Peel Regional Police communication centre were busy fielding wasteful 911 calls, including one from a resident who was upset that the emergency notification had interrupted the Leafs game on television.

      The shocking revelation was contained in a new report about the misuse of the 911 system that was considered by the Peel Regional Police Service board on Friday.

      The report reveals that there was a significant uptick in wasteful 911 calls in the hours after an Amber Alert was issued for Riya Rajkumar late on the night of Feb. 14. Rajkumar was eventually found dead and her father was charged with murder in her death, though he later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

      The report says that the total volume of 911 calls received between 11 p.m. on Feb. 14 when the Amber Alert was first issued and 3 a.m. on Feb. 15 when it was lifted was 208, which represents a 65 per cent increase on the usual call volume during that time period.

      While some of those calls were genuine, the report says that 43 per cent of them were deemed as wasteful.

      “While a number of people called in with information they felt might assist the investigation, many members of the public deliberately called 911 to voice their displeasure at receiving the Amber Alert at such a late hour,” the report says. “It should be noted that the calls complaining about the Amber Alert continued to be received by Peel Regional Police on both 911 and through the switchboard well into the day on Feb. 15.”

      Police did express exasperation with the number of 911 calls complaining about the Amber Alert back in February but the report considered by the Peel Regional Police Service board paints a more detailed picture about those wasteful calls.

      Here is a snapshot of some of the more disheartening 911 calls regarding the Amber Alert:

      “No one can watch TV until this child is found. This will destroy our program, you can’t take away TV completely, it has to be secondary.”
      “You have an Amber Alert that I can’t get off my TV.”
      “How can I make a complaint about you guys abusing the national emergency system?”
      “She is with her father. I don’t think this is a national emergency.”
      “This is an invasion of my privacy.”
      “We are trying to watch the Leafs game.”
    1. mch's Avatar
      mch -
      There is good science to suggest that disruption of sleep will increase traffic accidents the next day. This happens with every transition to daylight saving time. So the alerts when people are sleeping could actually result in deaths.

      There is no excuse for clogging the 911 system though. That could easily cost a life.
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