AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- State and local police say the safe return of a 3-year-old Augusta girl shows that Maine's Amber Alert system works. However, they acknowledged there were a few problems that need to be addressed.
State Police, who are in charge of the alerts, say the biggest improvement needed is to shorten the time it takes to get the alert to the public. The different elements of the Tuesday alert rolled out over about two hours. Once the State Police approved the alert request, it first went to all the radio and TV stations for broadcast. Then to the Maine DOT and the Maine Turnpike Authority to put it on electronic highway signs.The Maine State Lottery put the message on all of its machines. It also went to cell phones, eventually. That process was slowed down because of a technical problem at the Maine Emergency Management Agency, which maintains that system. Among other problems, an initial alert had an incorrect phone number to call, and at one point Augusta’s police switchboard was overwhelmed by calls. State Police spokesman Steve McCausland says the problems will be addressed.
"Next time it will happen quicker," he said. "We will critique what we did, we will find out what we could have done better and be ready for the next one and hope it runs smoother. But overall, this system worked incredible well."
McCausland also said Augusta police indicated the Amber Alerts played a crucial role in the child's safe return.