Awakened by that Amber Alert emergency tone? You weren’t alone

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- An eight-year-old girl was found safe with relatives Sunday, September 28th following an early morning Amber Alert issued as police in Berlin, Wisconsin investigated what they're calling a double homicide. The alert went out statewide -- and shocked many who were awakened by the alert Sunday morning. This case is the first time the emergency tone and alert have been used on cell phones in Wisconsin.

The Amber Alert itself has been used in Wisconsin since April of 2003. It's an emergency notification system used to locate children who may be in danger.

In 2012, the federal government worked with cell phone carriers across the United States to put out an audible text alert. It was used in for the first time in Wisconsin on Sunday morning.

It was around 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, and many were awakened by their phones -- signaling an Amber Alert in Wisconsin. The state's Department of Justice issued the alert, which was displayed on electronic billboards, broadcast on television stations and radio stations -- and on cell phones.

"Time is of the essence, so technology can reach everybody through cell phones and text messages to reach people and aid in the recovery of the children," Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said.

On Sunday morning, officials feared an eight-year-old Berlin, Wisconsin girl was in danger -- and for the first time since cell phone companies put out the alert capability on cell phones, it was used in Wisconsin.

"They don't happen often, but we know it can help save a life when a child is abducted," Sheriff Schmaling said.

Sheriff Schmaling got the alert on Sunday morning -- just like the rest of us.

"Had I been traveling that would have been great information to know. Maybe I can spot that vehicle and alert authorities to take some level of action to hopefully save a child's life," Sheriff Schmaling said.

Sheriff Schmaling says he knows how important the Amber Alert can be. 10 years ago, he issued one with the help of the state. Two young children and their mother, Teri Jendusa-Nicolai went missing. The children were found safe, and Jendusa-Nicolai was discovered alive, locked up in a storage locker.

"It was quick. It was efficient. A Wheeling police officer overheard it and was able to stop that particular car we were looking for 10 years ago," Sheriff Schmaling said.

The Department of Justice says despite an early morning rude awakening for some, the feedback from the public on this Amber Alert has been positive.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice says since the Amber Alert was activated in April of 2003 in Wisconsin, 32 children have been recovered.

If you don't to be notified, you can go into your cell phone's settings and opt out.

Why was the Amber Alert created?

Amber Hagerman

Amber Hagerman

In January, 1996, Amber Hagerman was abducted in Arlington, Texas, in broad daylight with witnesses. Despite intensive police, FBI, and media involvement, Amber’s body was found four days later, and the crime has remained unsolved. In her memory, and that of abducted children nationwide, Texas developed the first Amber Alert Plan to aid in the recovery of abducted children. Since that time, many cities and states have developed their own Amber Alert Plans.

CLICK HERE to read more about recent Amber Alert incidents in Wisconsin on

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  • zan

    Hey, you know what? A kid goes missing… I’m pretty ok with being woken up. Anyone’s kid… anytime. My minor inconvenience and paltry amount of lost sleep is literally NOTHING compared to the heartache of a lost or abducted child.

    So, I’m good. Wake me up.

  • Asleep in WI

    I have 3 kids and 8 nieces and nephews…. If one of them went missing I’d want the whole world awake looking for them. So I am fine with having been woken up. I am glad the little girl is safe.

    • Tired Mom

      Look. Maybe you are from a small town or something. My city has a population of 600,000 people over almost 100 square miles. Two highways cut right through it. Getring up in the middle of the night to look for a vehicle described in an Amber Alert is illogical. Im not a person who lacks empathy. I just happen to be someone who believes that if I so desire, I should have the right to turn off amber alert alarms on my phone. I had no idea I’d be crucified for having such an opinion. Wow.

  • Keisha Ward

    Totally do not mind the alert. Especially because it is to assist in the attempt to recover a child. I have children nieces nefews and little cousins so I would definitely want the assistance of whoever was willing to help if they were abducted. But even of I had no kids n my life it would still be no inconvenience for me to be awaken to possibly help someone else.

  • ConcernedMan

    If it helps save a childs life then wake me up. It needs to blanket everyone because you may wake and look out the window to see the vehicle that little child is in. So inconvenience us all, actually do this more please. A child goes missing and police have a time sensitive lead then I want to know and we all should want to know regardless of city size.

    Also may make the cretin that do this think twice or make a mistake when they know literally the entire state just was alerted.

  • Mark

    Question. How many of you read the alert, immediately got up and scanned the street for that car when the Amber Alert rang? (Obviously not Tired Mom.) Just wondering how effective it was.

  • Silence for the majority

    All it did was cause me to opt out – and I was awake at the time! Why the incredibly obnoxious alarm sound? It’s not like people wouldn’t read a non-noisy text message titled Amber Alert. Change the stupid system and it would be more effective.

Comments are closed.