Cell phone users around Ohio woke up this morning to some important information — an Amber Alert involving a 16-year-old and her infant child who had been abducted from West Virginia and possibly brought into the state.
Some were surprised to find this alert coming directly to their phones.
This is part of the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) — a partnership of The Federal Communications Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the wireless industry, according to State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne R. Ralston, who is the spokeswoman for the Amber Alert system.
Shaina Nicole Tenney and her daughter, Grace Hope Tenney, were found by West Virginia State Police on Interstate 79 near the town of Weston safe and unharmed, according dispatcher Dennis Burner.
Margel Tenney, Shaina Nicole Tenney’s stepfather, was taken into custody and is facing sexual abuse charges and has other charges pending, Burner said.
Ralston said today's alert was one of the first Ohio has issued since adopting the current system a year ago and may have been the first one received by Lorain Countians.
Ralston said Ohio has had a similar alert system in place for some time, but, while the previous system was opt-in, the new system is opt-out, meaning users will receive the alerts unless they choose not to. She suggested anyone who doesn't want to receive the alerts contact their wireless provider for details on how to do so.
The alerts, which are free to receive, can be any of three categories: alerts issued by the president, alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life and Amber Alerts. Alerts issued by the president cannot be blocked by users, Ralston said.
While Amber Alerts are geographically targeted, CMAS is not designed to — and does not — track anyone's location, Ralston said.
"We would hope that Ohioans wouldn't disable the Amber Alert notification," Ralston said. "When something like that comes out, it's very serious. There's a child in imminent danger.
"If you're driving in your car, the suspect vehicle might be right there. You might see them while you're out."
For more info on CMAS, please visit the information page on the Federal Communications Commission website: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/commercial-mobile-alert-system-cmas.
Contact Rona Proudfoot at 329-7124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.