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Technology assisting police in Amber Alert - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Technology assisting police in Amber Alert

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FARGO, N.D. -- That electronic jolt was an Amber Alert issued for three-year-old Jayvani WhiteEagle who was believed to be abducted late Wednesday night. In just 90 minutes Bismark police found the little girl in Parshall, North Dakota.

Many in the Metro-Area jumped at the sound of a blaring alarm or buzz around one o'clock in the afternoon Thursday...for an Amber Alert hundreds of miles away. It's all part of a new, nationwide alert system that went into effect January first. Alerts can be sent nationwide, regionally or on a local level.

"It was just a very, very loud alarm," said Matthew Abrahamson of Fargo. "An extremely loud alarm."

"Wasn't sure what it was and thought it was a fire alarm," said James Smith. 

In Downtown Fargo, local offices, businesses and cell phone users had something in common to talk about, the blaring Amber Alert that went off Thursday.

"Then we all looked at our phone and was like, 'yup' it's an Amber Alert," said Shivi Jones. 

Shivi Jones said the alert when off while she was in the office at work. Nearly 10 other coworkers received the same startling chime at the same time, to those who didn't even sign up to get the alerts. 

The new Amber Alert text is something much more far-reaching than practically any other form of alert: because it's sent to the one device that has become part of us. 

"When it comes to technology, usually the more hands and the more eyes we can get, it's certainly going to be more helpful in that situation," said Lt. Joel Vettel of the Fargo Police Department. "Especially when your dealing with a child that's missing."

Bismark police told us it's another tool in the toolbox for law enforcement. Within an hour and a half of the alert being issued, Bismark PD received 80 to 100 calls from concerned neighbors of vehicles and possible suspect spottings. Even 200 miles away, Fargo PD received a slough of calls. 

"When somebody goes missing, especially a small child, everybody's concerned," Vettel told Valley News Live

For those jolted by the alert, they say they're just happy this technology is being used for good. 

"It's comforting to know something like this is going on and to be alert, to watch out as a community," said Jones.

Technology has changed how law enforcement does business. In cases like this, police rely on the public's help.

Valley News Live asked police why a message was not sent to cell phone users informing them that the girl was found, their response was that they were trying to inform the public as quick as possible when Jayvani WhiteEagle first went missing. 

This alert was quite starling for many. One business, a glass factory in Downtown Fargo, actually evacuated the building because of the mass alert and was unsure of what was happening. 

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