With a missing child found the day after he disappeared, one Oakland officer is giving some of the credit to a football player whose share of the information may have helped it reach a larger audience. A citizen who had seen the Amber Alert spotted the child, and the boy is safe and has been returned home.
The stated goal of an Amber Alert is to
…instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.
Police departments share Amber Alerts and additional information about missing children on social media pages for the same reason: a hope that is quickly placing a visual image of a missing child before the eyes of the public will increase the chances that he is found, recognized and returned home safely.
On Saturday, Lieutenant Chris Bolton, of the Oakland Police Department, did exactly that with information regarding three-year-old Dartanian Brooks, who had disappeared with a family friend after, according to ABC7, the friend was allowed to borrow a vehicle for a short trip to a nearby store. Dartanian was permitted to go along for the ride.
— Lt. Chris Bolton (@OPDChris) January 14, 2017
Tammy Martin, the driver of the vehicle, failed to return with both the van and child on Friday, and an alert went out. When Lieutenant Bolton shared the missing boy’s information on Twitter, the post found a boost from Derek Carr, quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Carr is moderately active on Twitter, posting sports and personal updates, motivational and religious tweets, and the occasional quasi-political post (such as one recently on the stigma connected to use of food stamps).
On Saturday, however, he turned his attention to a local matter, sharing Lt. Bolton’s post with the missing child’s information sheet.
It’s impossible to say exactly how many eyes found the missing child’s information because of Carr’s share, but the Raiders quarterback has almost a quarter of a million followers on Twitter, and the information received hundreds of shares and likes, demonstrating that it did reach a significant audience.
A short time after the quarterback boosted the signal of the information with his retweet, the Oakland Police Department had good news: the missing child had been found.
Missing 3-yr old safely located. Observant citizen saw AMBER Alert & took action & called OPD after seeing vehicle on the road. #Reunited
— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) January 14, 2017
A citizen had seen the vehicle, a blue 1999 Honda Odyssey Minivan with a broken window covered in black plastic, described in the Amber Alert and the tweeted bulletin, and contacted the Oakland Police Department with the location and information.
According to KTVU, Dartanian was found and taken to a hospital to be checked before he was returned to his mother.
It’s a case that proves the effectiveness of Amber Alerts, and the value of citizen involvement in finding missing children.
“As of December 23, 2015 there have been 800 children rescued and returned specifically because of AMBER Alert.”
While reports show that the citizen who reported the vehicle’s location saw the Amber Alert, rather than the social media shares, it’s clear that the quick and efficient sharing of a missing child’s information is an aid to law enforcement, and Lieutenant Chris Bolton gave credit to Derek Carr on Sunday for helping to spread the word.
— Lt. Chris Bolton (@OPDChris) January 15, 2017
A celebrity retweet is an effective signal boost — in this case, Derek Carr has about nine times as many followers as the Oakland Police Department, and more than 90 times as many as Lieutenant Bolton, so there’s little doubt his share multiplied the number of social media users the missing child’s information reached.
Like the Amber Alert system itself, a celebrity retweet is the kind of information boost that could be the difference in whether a missing child is found and returned — the kind of signal boost that could save lives.
[Featured Image by Brian Bahr/Getty Images]