With families looking on, Bush to sign #039;Amber Alerts#039; into law

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) - A wide-ranging package of child safety laws needed cajoling by the families of kidnapped children to make it through Congress, but when it came time to vote, both houses gave Amber Alerts overwhelming approval.

President Bush was signing the package into law today in the Rose Garden, surrounded by families with joyful stories of their children's' rescue and those still suffering heartbreaking losses.

The legislation's centerpiece is expanding nationwide a voluntary rapid-response network to help find kidnapped children.

Email newsletter signup

The electronic notifications named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas, - kidnapped and murdered in 1996 - now speed information over radio and television and electronic highway signs in several states.

The legislation provides federal matching grants to states and communities for equipment and training to create a national network.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said Wednesday the nationwide alert network will be a vital tool in keeping kidnapped children from being harmed.

''The sad fact is that most of the children who are harmed seriously or killed in an abduction, they suffer that injury in the first several hours, So acting quickly is very, very important,'' Ashcroft said in an interview on CBS' ''The Early Show.''