AB 535 Amends Amber Alert System

Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney, is pleased to announce that on September 23, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 535 which expands the circumstances under which the Emergency Alert System, known use AMBER Alert, can be activated. AB 535 was sponsored by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the County of Alameda. It was authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward). Under the existing law, an AMBER Alert was activated by the CHP only when a child was taken by a non-custodial parent or stranger abduction. AB 535 NOW allows the AMBER Alert to be activated when law enforcement has credible information to believe anyone, including a parent or guardian who has full custody of a child, takes the child away with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or death to that child.

AB 535 grew out of a tragedy observed first-hand by Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Inspector Cristina Harbison. In June of 2005, relatives of five-year old Jineva Driscoll contacted authorities with grave concerns after her mother, drove the child from their home threatening to kill both Jineva and herself. Although relatives feared for Jineva’s life, no statewide AMBER Alert was issued because the child was taken by a custodial parent. Under the law at the time an “abduction” could not have occurred for the purposes of issuing an AMBER Alert because the one taking Jineva, and placing her at risk, was her mother. Tragically, Jineva’s mother killed her and then killed herself. Both were found dead in the mother’s car on the Lakeville Highway.

“This legislation will ensure that law enforcement throughout the state of California will be able to issue an Amber Alert under all necessary circumstances. When any child is abducted, regardless of the relationship between the abductor and the child, we must use all means at our disposal to bring about a swift and safe rescue,” states District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley. “I wish to thank Assemblymember Bill Quirk for his dedication to this important legislation.”

“No parent ever wants to have to report a missing child. However, when such action is needed, quick and coordinated response by law enforcement can help to safely return the child. I am confident that this bill will be a powerful tool in helping law enforcement to swiftly find and recover a child that was taken by a stranger, friend or family member. I want to thank Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’ Malley and all of the organizations who worked so hard to get this bill signed,” states Assemblymember Bill Quirk.

Posted on Sep 24, 2013