JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle was reported missing from a northside Walmart just after 11 PM Friday, police launched a citywide manhunt, but it wasn't until hours later than an Amber Alert was issued.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is the agency that issues Amber Alerts, tells Action News missing child cases must meet specific criteria in order for an Amber Alert to be issued. That criteria includes a recommnedation from local law enforcement, the child must be under the age of 18, a clear abduction took place, the child's life is thought to be in danger, and a detailed description of the child and/or abductor is available.
In the Perrywinkle case, FDLE Spokesperson Gretl Plessinger says JSO provided them with the necessary information at 2:36 AM.
"Usually the alerts are pushed out within an hour or two of receiving that call."
Plessinger says the state was ready to send out the alert, when detectives with the JSO called with additional key information about Donald Smith. It wasn’t until between 4:27 AM and 5:15 AM that the alert was issued.
"Could we have gotten it out faster? Perhaps. But an Amber Alert with no information or limited information really has no value to the public."
Plessinger says the department reviews every case to see if improvements to the system could be made.
PERRYWINKLE AMBER ALERT TIMELINE
4:27 - First media notification
4:33 - Emergency alert system activated
5:11 - Email alert sent to 20,000 Amber Alert registrants
5:15 - Second media notification