How the Maile Amber Alert got its name and how it has helped locate minors in Hawaii

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Amber Alert system has helped thousands of minors safely return home. In Hawaii, the system is called Maile Amber Alert. The origin for both share a similar story.

Amanda Leonard, Statewide Coordinator of Missing Child Center, said they were named after missing children. 

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“Maile Amber Alert was named in memory of both 6-year-old Maile Gilbert, who was abducted in Kailua Oahu and murdered in 1985,” said Leonard, “as well as 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted in Arlington, Texas and murdered in 1996.”

Leonard said MAILE stands for “Minor Abducted In Life-threatening Emergency,” and AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.”

“So, all states have an Amber Alert program, but our state is unique in that we have named our program — the Maile Amber Alert — in honor of Maile Gilbert,” said Leonard. 

According to Leonard, the Maile Amber Alert can only be activated if three of the following criteria are met.

“First, the child must be 17 years of age or younger,” said Leonard. “Second, there must be sufficient information to indicate that the child has been abducted and is in immediate danger of seriously bodily harm or death.”

Third, there must be sufficient information about the child, the abductor and/or the abductor’s vehicle.

Leonard said their department works tirelessly to return minors safely back to their homes.

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“As of July 5th of this year 1,074 children have been recovered due to Amber Alerts,” said Leonard. “Ninety-four of those recoveries were due to the wireless emergency alert which is the alert that you would get on your cellphone.”

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