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Amber Alert error part of cell phone provider service, not emergency system, DPS says

Getting repeat Amber Alert messages? Here's why
Posted at 12:41 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 20:12:54-04

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says cell phone service providers are to blame for errors with Amber Alert messages. 

Some Arizona residents have reported getting multiple or repeat messages from the emergency alert system, including those from Sunday's Amber Alert out of Surprise.

DPS tweeted Monday afternoon that the department was aware that some people were receiving Amber Alert messages "continually being sent to some cell phones." 

The department said the error is not with the Amber Alert system, but rather cell phone providers. 

If you are getting multiple Amber Alert messages that you believe you should not be receiving, DPS says to contact your cell phone provider.

"Please don’t unsubscribe or turn (off) these alerts! These alerts can be directly tied to the rescue of 924 children!" DPS Trooper Kameron Lee tweeted. 

When asked if any providers in particular had been calling about the multiple alerts, DPS said many callers were Sprint customers.

A Sprint spokesperson said the company was looking into the matter but had no further comment.

In the past, there have been problems with Arizona's Amber Alert system. In 2017, ABC15 looked into why mobile notifications weren't sent to Arizona cell phone users alerting them of three missing siblings out of Marana who were kidnapped. In that case, most of the Amber Alert system functioned correctly --messages went out on highway message boards, broadcast media, emails and texts -- but the cell phones were silent.

ABC15 found a disconnect between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and DPS in that case. Officials from different agencies said the issues were due to software problems, a request never being submitted and confusion about the vehicle's information. They said they would work on improving the system. 

Separately, the Navajo Nation is also working on an Amber Alert system after a deadly abduction in 2016. That case raised concerns over the fact that the nation's largest American Indian reservation did not have its own system to issue alerts about child abductions.