I recently got a new cell phone and while out at a public event, I received an AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response) alert. The text sent to my phone provided a little information about some child kidnapping and the make, model, and license plate number of the alleged kidnapper. Honestly, I only glanced at the message and then deleted it, since there wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it, but I was amazed at the technology that would even allow the text to go to a cell phone in which I was at a significant distance from my actual home. This could only mean that these AMBER alerts are actually location specific and that therefore other people must have been receiving this same alert on or about the same time.
While on one hand, I can applaud the effort and the efficiency of providing real-time information to the general public in order to help locate and to find the kidnapper, I also must question as to whether we the public are not also being subverted and duped into becoming part of a new-world citizen patrol. The general public is not law enforcement people, they don't understand the nuances of law enforcement, nor do they understand the parameters of law enforcement. These issues are best left in the hands of law enforcement personnel and should not be second-sourced to amateur citizens, except under the most dire of situations.
While the intentions of the AMBER alert may be all well and good, it does not take too much of a government stretch to take something that is specifically setup for real emergenciesand kidnappings, and morph it into something in which pliable citizens are used for nefarious purposes against other citizens. It is a very dangerous thing to turn the mindset of everyday citizens into a mob-like mentality in which the information that is provided to these citizens is acted on without ever clearly thinking through the ramifications of it.
There can never be fairness or justice in this country, if those that are accused of crimes are not given their full constitutional rights. What is amazing to me is that although we have the technology to send out AMBER alerts, they aren't really necessary, since police and law enforcement agencies already have sufficient sophisticated tools that would seldom require citizen interaction.
However, there are psychological reasons why law enforcement in conjunction with certain government agencies would like to treat their private citizens as molded agents of the state. In times of civil crisis, the government would have the inside track on real-time communications with its population and could easily use that advantage to bend the people's will to the government desires. This is the clear and present danger that citizens should worry about. The State is not always right, does not always have your best interest in mind, and the State exists primarily to propagate itself.
AMBER alerts, although well-intentioned, should also be seen as the proverbial Trojan horse.