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Why an AMBER Alert wasn't issued for missing Fruitland boy

Idaho State Police say the Endangered Missing Person Alert used for missing 5-year-old Michael Vaughan has almost all the same tools as an AMBER Alert.

FRUITLAND, Idaho — Update (7/29): Anyone who can assist with the search for Michael Vaughan can meet on July 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the southern parking lot of Fruitland High School to join a community search. 

On Tuesday night, law enforcement in Payette County issued an endangered missing person alert for 5-year-old Michael Vaughan, who has yet to be found. As the Treasure Valley continues searching for the boy, viewers asked KTVB what the difference is between an AMBER Alert and the alert police issued for Michael.

"If something comes outside the criteria that we're not able to issue an AMBER Alert, we do an Endangered Missing Person Alert," said Tanea Parmenter, the AMBER Alert Coordinator for Idaho State Police.

The criteria to issue an AMBER Alert must include:

  1. A child is known by law enforcement officials to have been abducted.
  2. The abduction occurred within 12 hours of initial activation of AMBER Alert.
  3. The child is under 17 years of age.
  4. Law enforcement must believe the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.
  5. There must be enough descriptive information to believe that an AMBER Alert will assist in the recovery of the child (must include as much of the following information as possible).
  6. The missing child must be entered into NCIC. 

ISP said the Endangered Missing Person Alert used for Michael has almost all the same tools as an AMBER Alert. Notifications are sent through email, text messages, social media posts and the alerting program, CodeRED. AMBER Alerts use road signs and send phone alerts that provide suspect and vehicle descriptions in the case of an abducted child.

"Payette County has done a really great job as they have tools in their toolbox as well to find children," Parmenter said.

According to Payette County Sheriff's Office, the county issued a CodeRED to residents in the Hidden Meadow Subdivision in Fruitland at 8:18 p.m. Tuesday. It was later expanded across the whole county at 9:40 p.m.

"When we have an endangerment factor due to age, circumstance, imminent danger of bodily harm or death, we want to make sure that we're notifying the community and the public that they need to help us find that child or missing person," Parmenter said.

While there are no criteria that need to be met for a timeline to issue an endangered missing person alert, ISP said time is always important in cases such as Michael's.

"As soon as we can get people looking and eyes out, we have a higher chance of recovery for the child," Parmenter said.

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