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Legislature Contemplates Means for More Local Child Abduction Alerts

Texas lawmakers could pass a proposal in the remaining weeks of the 88th Texas Legislature that could spark more local child abduction alerts.

The Texas House passed HB 3556 by Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton, a week ago on a 142-0 vote on the House local and consent calendar of non-controversial bills.

As is often the case for bills filed in the Legislature, HB 3556 is driven by a tragic local incident, the Nov. 30, 2022, abduction and death of seven-year-old Wise County girl, Athena Strand.

An arrest affidavit reported by DFW-area stations said a delivery driver hit Strand while backing out of her driveway.

The affidavit said he panicked, abducted, and then strangled her in the back of the delivery truck to avoid Strand telling her father what had happened.

Her body was found days later.

Strand’s parents attempted to get a statewide AMBER alert issued within hours of her disappearance but were unsuccessful due to the stringent statewide activation criteria.

HB 3556 would require the Department of Public Safety, on request of a local law enforcement agency that knows a child is missing but has not verified the statewide AMBER alert activation criteria, to do a form of regional alert if the chief law enforcement officer of the local law enforcement agency believes it is warranted.

It would be activated within a 100-mile radius of the location from which the child was last seen or is believed to have gone missing, and all adjacent counties to that location.  

As a result, it is possible that broadcasters may see more local AMBER alert activations in those areas with and without local EAS AMBER alert plans.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee chaired by Houston Democrat Sen. John Whitmire but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The bill faces a tight schedule in the upper chamber as all House bills must see final floor votes by midnight May 24.

Two Dallas area lawmakers are shepherding the bill through the Senate, Sens. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, and Angela Paxton, R-McKinney.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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