Government shutdown throws AMBER Alert website offline

Government shutdown throws AMBER Alert website offline

Posted:
Until Monday afternoon, a message told visitors of the AMBER Alert website that the government shutdown forced the site to go down. Until Monday afternoon, a message told visitors of the AMBER Alert website that the government shutdown forced the site to go down.
The AMBER Alert website returned Monday afternoon. TBI officials say the alerts themselves were not affected, as they are handled state to state. The AMBER Alert website returned Monday afternoon. TBI officials say the alerts themselves were not affected, as they are handled state to state.
Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell Debusk says when a child goes missing, police departments contact TBI, which can then issue an alert within minutes on their website, through local media and on TDOT signs. Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell Debusk says when a child goes missing, police departments contact TBI, which can then issue an alert within minutes on their website, through local media and on TDOT signs.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The federal AMBER Alert website was down for nearly a week after the government shutdown, but the site returned early Monday afternoon.

Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation say the AMBER Alert system itself is still up and running, despite the government shutdown.

For the last several days, if you tried to visit www.amberalert.gov, run by the Department of Justice, you were met with a message saying "Due to the lapse in federal funding, this Office of Justice Programs (OJP) website is unavailable."

A number of 6 News viewers were worried that meant alerts about missing children were not being issued.

TBI says that's not the case.

They say the DOJ site only provides information about the AMBER Alert program, and that no alerts are ever actually listed there.

The program is run state to state, and in Tennessee, alerts letting communities know about serious child abductions are posted on the TBI's website.

Local law enforcement say the program is extremely helpful in finding missing children.

"It's working just like it always has been because it is a state program and is not a federal program," said Kristin Helm, spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

"When you put out information across the state, across the city and across the county, everyone becomes aware of that missing person or the suspect or that suspect's vehicle so everyone can be watching," said Darrell Debusk of the Knoxville Police Department.

Debusk says when a child goes missing, police departments contact TBI, which can then issue an alert within minutes on their website, through local media and on TDOT signs.

Early Monday afternoon, the federal site was online again.

6 News tried to contact the Department of Justice to find out why, but a message on their voicemail said they would not be checking messages until the government shutdown comes to an end.

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