EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - It's a massive undertaking to make sure when the unthinkable happens, we're ready. Authorities from 14 counties descended on Tyler Thursday to train on a new East Texas Amber Alert program.
It's a cooperative effort among local law enforcement agencies and the media throughout East Texas. When it comes to missing children, time is of the essence.
The statewide Amber Alert is still in place, but the new program was created to get vital information to the East Texas public as fast as possible, covering counties from Henderson to Panola and Harrison to Cherokee.
Not too long ago, 11-year-old Julissa Rodriguez went missing in Tyler. Law enforcement agencies all over the state were alerted, but no statewide Amber Alert was issued. Certain criteria must be met before DPS issues those alerts. The girl was eventually found in Mexico.
Coordinators of the program say with this new, hyper local system in place, East Texas would be more equipped to act quickly in situations like that.
"The Department of Justice says that of children who are abducted and murdered, 72 percent of them are killed within the first three hours," said Super East Texas Amber Alert System Coordinator Harry Goodan. "Every minute counts. The quicker we can get the alerts out there, the quicker we can get the kids back."