Support Localized Alert for Missing Children

Support Localized Alert for Missing Children

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Why this petition matters

Started by Benson Varghese

Support Legislation for a Localized Alert for Missing Children [Athena Alert]

Athena Strand was kidnapped by a FedEx driver on November 30, 2022. Numerous law enforcement agencies joined in the search for Athena, including the Wise County Sheriff's Office, Texas DPS, and the FBI, as well as hundreds of community volunteers. Unfortunately, an AMBER Alert could not be sent until the next afternoon - not because law enforcement didn't want to, but because of the high threshold to send out the state-wide alert. Sadly, this was too late to save Athena's life.

The AMBER Alert is a powerful tool and it saves lives. Yet an AMBER Alert can only be sent out under Texas law after it has been confirmed that the child was abducted.

Unfortunately, there are many instances, like Athena's, when law enforcement wants to send out an alert because a child is missing, but can't because of the understandably high threshold required to send out a statewide alert.

Time is of the Essence When a Child is Missing

The struggle for law enforcement is that they know time is of the essence. In a 2009 FBI report, citing a study of 775 child abduction murders, 76 percent of child murders took place within three hours of the abduction. That number rose to 89 percent by the 24-hour mark. 

The Solution - A Localized Alert with a Lower Threshold

Maitlyn Gandy - the mother of Athena Strand - contacted State Rep. Lynn Stucky to develop what is now proposed for legislation, Texas House Bill 3556. The bill allows for a localized alert (within 100 miles and to bordering counties) to go out when the head of local law enforcement believes sending out a notice that a child is missing would be helpful - even when it is unknown whether the child has been abducted. 


Athena Alert Bill

Maitlyn Gandy Testifies on Behalf of HB 3556




A Localized Alert Would Garner Localized Attention

In addition to getting the word out quickly, another benefit of the Athena Alert comes from its localized nature. Texas is a big state, which means Texans may get an AMBER Alert for a child who was abducted several hundred miles away, and for good reason: by the time most AMBER Alerts go out, the child could be anywhere.

The Athena Alert accomplishes something very different - getting the word out as quickly as possible in a much smaller radius. This means if you are getting an Athena Alert, the chances of the child being in your vicinity are much greater. The hope is that Texans will be especially attentive when an Athena Alert is broadcast. 

A Common Sense Bill that Requires No Funding

The Athena Alert would use the systems already built out for the AMBER Alert. Because there is a process already in place, allowing law enforcement to use the system through localized alerts does not create the need for any additional infrastructure nor would there be an additional cost to taxpayers. There's no cost too great when it comes to saving a child's life - so saving lives without a greater cost to taxpayers is just common sense legislation. 

Where We Are and What's Next

On May 9, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HB 3556, the "Athena Alert" bill. The bill is now in the Senate, where it is being carried by Senators Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney). If passed by a two-thirds majority vote it will immediately become law.

How You Can Help

1. If you live in Texas, we want you to sign this petition so we can show lawmakers how important of an issue this is. 

2. Use this link to find and contact your House Representative and your State Senator based on your address. 

3. You can also contact Lt. Gov. Patrick and Gov. Abbot to express your support. 

Contact Lt. Gov. Patrick: Phone (512) 463-5342, Webform

Contact Gov. Abbot: Phone 512-463-2000, Webform

Learn More:

Varghese Summersett


CBS 11



31,657 have signed. Let’s get to 35,000!