Huffpost Crime

Amber Alert Website Offline Due To Shutdown - But It Doesn't Affect Amber Alert Systems (UPDATE)

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UPDATE: The Department of Justice reports that a person was taken off of furlough this morning to re-open the Amber Alert website. It went live again at about 11 a.m. ET.

"The amber alert system was never interrupted, but to eliminate any confusion, the informational site maintained by the Justice Department has been restored," the spokesperson said.

EARLIER:

The informational website for the Department of Justice's Amber Alert program is offline due to the government shutdown -- but the system itself is up and running.

News organizations have been inaccurately reporting that there are no means of disseminating crucial information about missing children. AmberAlerts.gov and all the websites that the Office of Justice maintains currently read, "Due to the lapse in federal funding, this Office of Justice Programs website is unavailable."

A DOJ spokesperson explained to The Huffington Post that some government websites were taken down as a safety precaution.

"All the sites that had to go offline were put behind a firewall so that they couldn't be hacked while the IT people were on furlough."

Amber Alerts are issued jurisdictionally. It's the duty of local police, press and city governments to get information on child abductions out to the public. Law enforcement agencies still have the ability to get the word out via tweets, news broadcasts, cell phone alerts and road signs.

Additionally, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is in charge of compiling the DOJ's national Amber Alert information. Its website is still up and running, and there are no active Amber Alerts at this time.

The DOJ's site for "Active Amber Alerts" merely redirects to the NCMEC site, and provides information about training states to set up an Amber Alert system.

STATE AMBER ALERT CONTACTS

That didn't stop The Washington Examiner and other news organizations from deciding that President Obama "targeted children" and took the Amber Alert system offline to "score political points."

The DOJ recommends that local jurisdictions only issue Amber Alerts in the most serious abduction cases. Generally, an Amber Alert is filed when law enforcement has confirmation that an abduction occurred, there is a serious risk of bodily injury to the child and there is sufficient descriptive information about the abductee.

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