The government shutdown closed plenty of questionably “non-essential” government programs. Among them, the federally funded preschool program Head Start. When funding didn’t come through as expected on October 1, many of the programs scattered in states across the country were forced to close their doors. Parents across the nation were appalled, but not as appalled as when they saw the Amber Alert site had been taken down as part of the shutdown.
Amber Alert deals with alerts about abducted children. Although the system itself was never put on pause, the website did go down for a few days. Workers at the Justice Department said the event was a misunderstanding, blown out of proportion by the media. Officials said that after the funding was halted with the shutdown, they were no longer able to afford to pay enough staff to monitor the site. They thought it safer to put up a firewall to prevent any security issues.
The Justice Department pointed out that the site is not one ever used by law enforcement officials to help locate missing children. The Amber Alert system was never stopped, cut or interrupted at all. The website is only informational, meant to inform citizens of the department’s role. The Amber Alert system itself is more made up of outreach methods, including highway signs and tweets.
Despite all of these points, the website was restored shortly after it went down. After a wave of bad press and outraged parents spoke out about its unavailability, the Justice Department decided to reinstate the Amber Alert website.
-Amber Alert: http://www.amberalert.gov/
-“After bad press confusion, Justice Department restores federal Amber Alert website” CNN: http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/07/after-bad-press-and-confusion-justice-department-restores-federal-amber-alert-website/
-“Amber Alert website brought back online after outcry” Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/07/amber-alert-website-brought-back-online-after-outcry/
-Photo courtesy of Clare Bloomfield/freedigitalphotos.net