Imagine someone taking your child and you have every reason to believe he is in danger, but issuing an Amber Alert was denied because the case didn’t meet the strict five-point criteria.

A Father in Florida waited for his 3 year old son to return home after having a one night visit with his mother but they never arrived. The father, only known to me as Johnson, and the mother, Autumn Harris started divorce proceedings only 15 months after little Jaeden was born, which was in December 2007. Apparently Johnson was the custodial parent but he agreed to let Harris take the boy for the overnight visit in March. She agreed to return the child to his father by 6 p.m. but when she didn’t show up by 6:30 Johnson said he started freaking out but finally called the police when they hadn’t returned by 7:30 that night.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thomas Minkoff ordered the police to pick up the child as soon as they can locate him. He gave several reasons for this decision. One being that the mother has acknowledged a history of mental illness and two attempts to commit suicide. She had in the past admitted to living in a home without electricity or water service while having the child living with her. In fact the home she lived in was considered in filthy condition and was reported as being unfit for any child or other human being to inhabit.

On April 6 the judge concluded in his order that the minor child’s physical well being is in immediate danger, but the case still didn’t qualify for an Amber Alert to be issued. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that it didn’t meet the requirements according to spokesman Keith Kameg.

Tampabay.com reports that these are the five criteria for an Amber Alert, according to the FDLE:

To activate the AMBER alert the following five criteria must be met.

1. The child must be under 18.
2. There must be a clear indication of an abduction.
3. The law enforcement agency’s investigation must conclude that the child’s life is in danger.
4. There must be a detailed description of child and/or abductor/vehicle to broadcast to the public (photo when available).
5. The activation must be recommended by the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction.

Clearwater Police Spokeswoman, Joelle Castelli said that the authorities must conclude that the child’s life is in danger but they didn’t reach that conclusion in this case. They say there must be a clear indication of an abduction, but they consider this case as “interference with child custody” and not an abduction which does not trigger Amber alerts.

Interference is against the law so Clearwater detectives do consider this as an active criminal investigation. They are on the lookout for the child, Harris and Harris’s mother, Sandra Lawan Harris, who they think might be with them. Some information received by detectives gives them reason to believe they might be headed to Orlando.

Now how does this father feel about the case not meeting the criteria to issuing an Amber Alert? Well he is not happy and personally I don’t blame him. “I don’t agree with that at all,” said Johnson. “If the judge says that your son is in danger, I think it should automatically trigger an Amber Alert.”

The Amber Alert would help get the word out which would give Johnson a better chance of finding his son before any harm comes to him, if it is indeed a chance. “I’m just a regular person,” said 30 year old Johnson. “If it was a baseball player or somebody who meant something to the community, I think it would be an Amber Alert.”

This is my own personal opinion but I think a child taken away in cases such as this should be treated the same as a child kidnapped. This mother promised to return the boy at a certain time but failed to. There was even a signed order by a judge saying the minor child’s physical well-being is in immediate danger, so an alert should have been sent out, never mind the other requirements. We are talking about a child here, not an adult that has run off on their own. This just doesn’t make sense to me.

If I had more information like a description of the child and his mother and a photo of them I would gladly publish them. I think it is so important to have this information out to the public. It could help bring this baby home safe and sound.

My prayers are with this child. I do pray to God that he is not harmed and his mother will soon return him to his father.

I continue praying that one day little Haleigh Cummings and Adji Desir, both from Florida, as well as all the others that remain missing will be found someday. These children do not deserve to taken from their family. I can only imagine how confused or scared they might all be if they are still living. My heart goes out to all of them.

Jan Barrett

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