Small Change Brings Big Change - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Small Change Brings Big Change

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by Phil Prazan

pprazan@myabc5.com

@PhilPrazan

Iowans have been very aware of missing children cases lately with two high profile ones dominating headlines. Most recently the case of Kathlynn Shepard. 
 
But earlier there was the case of the missing Evansdale cousins, who were later found dead.

Their parents asked the public's help for information but they also had some questions for authorities, like why was no Amber Alert issued to get the public more involved?
 
State authorities listened to their concerns and Wednesday they announced a big change to Iowa's Amber Alert system.  It came in the form of one word - they changed an "and" to "or".

Amber Alerts are tools used by law enforcement to unleash the eyes and ears of the public.

Messages through the weather service, television, radio and now text messages, alert the public of possible abduction cases.

Two committees from the Iowa Department of Public Safety - the communication and criteria committees - decided on this small change.  They will allow alerts to go out if a description of the child, abductor or abductor's vehicle is found, eliminating the previous requirement of all three.

Police don't foresee the number of alerts going up.

"We're really hoping what may seem like a very superficial chance on the surface helps some decision makers," explained Major Todd A Misel from the Iowa State Patrol.

DPS says they fine-tune all of their policies constantly.  Right now they're trying to find away to get all this technology involved. More efficient alerts by twitter, facebook and other apps are just around the corner.

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