The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. Law enforcement officials say that nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was yanked, screaming, from her bicycle outside her grandmother's Arlington, Texas house. Her body was found four days later dumped in a drainage ditch. Her throat was slashed. Her murderer has never been found.

The news of Amber's murder shocked and outraged the entire community and mobilized residents to take action. Residents and concerned individuals contacted local radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special "alerts" over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the future. In response to the community's concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law-enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Initially it was just radio stations that participated. In 1999, eight area television stations joined the plan and began sending out these urgent bulletins. Statistics show that, when abducted, a child's greatest enemy is time. It can mean the difference between life and death as recent experiences have shown.

North Dakota's Amber Alert

Tragedies like the 1996 death of Amber Hagerman, and the 1993 tragedy of 11-year-old Jeanna North of Fargo, North Dakota inspired the Fargo Police Department to develop the Jeanna Alert. By 2002 nine North Dakota counties had a fully implemented an AMBER Alert program for several years: Cass, Adams, Hettinger, Bowman, Slope, Golden Valley, Billings, Stark and Dunn. It had been used once in the Richardton area.

In August of 2002, Governor John Hoeven signed Executive Order 2002-06, making the AMBER Alert a state wide program under the North Dakota Highway Patrol.