Canada police outraged at public for complaining about late-night alert on murdered girl

An emergency mobile phone alert about an abducted child resulted in a barrage of angry calls to police


 The amber alert system is named after Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old child abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996. Photograph: IanMcD/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Police in Canada have issued a rare rebuke to the public after a late-night emergency mobile phone alert about an abducted child prompted widespread complaints.

At 11.36pm on Thursday night, police in Ontarioissued an amber alert for Riya Rajkumar, 11, after police feared the girl’s father had kidnapped her.

Shortly after the alert was issued, police found her body, but they said that calls from the public helped them locate and arrest her father, Roopesh Rajkumar.

A second alert was sent at 12.21am, saying Riya had been located.

But police say they received a barrage of angry calls, as Ontario residents complained that the alert was issued too late at night.

“I can’t even begin to describe how disappointing and upsetting it is to read the comments, emails and calls to our communications bureau complaining about receiving an Amber alert late at night,” tweeted Constable Akhil Mooken, a spokesperson for Peel regional police. “I appreciate that a lot of people were sleeping but the immediate need to locate the child outweighed the momentary inconvenience that some people encountered.”

Police also acknowledged the late night alert at a press conference the next morning, saying complaints continued after the search was called off. “I feel for everyone, but given the circumstances, it did lead to the arrest of the individual, so I think that’s what we need to focus on,” said Constable Danny Marttini.

The amber alert system is named after Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old child abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996. The text messaging system, which is automatically sent to phones in an area where the child could be, is intended to alert the public of the ongoing search. During an amber alert, electronic highway signs often display the details of the search and suspect descriptions.

Canada first adopted the alert system in 2002, and requires the abducted person be under the age of 18 before the alert is sent out. Police must also believe the child is in imminent danger. A number of countries, including Mexico, Australia and 20 European nations have similar alert systems in place.

Despite the numerous complaints, police say the alert helped locate the murder suspect and his vehicle. The Peel regional police tweeted: “The system works. Thank you to all those that called with tips”.


SINCE YOU’RE HERE…

… we have a small favour to ask. Hurn Publications is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

If everyone who reads our reporting and writing, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. We ask that you follow us and subscribe to our publication.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s