Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa conference aims to improve Amber Alert system

TAMPA — More than 350 people from around the world gathered here Tuesday to discuss ways to improve the Amber Alert program to save more missing and abducted children.

The National Amber Alert Training Symposium, taking place at the Hyatt in downtown Tampa, is organized by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The conference has drawn people from as far away as the Netherlands, as well as about 45 relatives of children who have been abducted — some still missing, some found safe and others who were killed.

That includes Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her bedroom in Utah in 2002 and found alive nine months later.

Before his daughter's abduction, Smart said he had never even heard of the Amber Alert, which sends out bulletins on TV, radio, the Internet and highway signs for the public to be on the lookout for the missing child.

"I am a big supporter of the Amber Alert because I believe more children can be saved," Smart said. "And it starts here, in this room. This is the core right here."

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the conference will move to the Franklin Street Plaza for a candlelight vigil in memory of two girls who were recently abducted and killed: Somer Thompson, 7, of Orange Park, and Elizabeth Olten, 9, of Missouri.

The conference concludes Thursday.

Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or

Tampa conference aims to improve Amber Alert system 10/27/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 2:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Salvador Dali's body will soon be exhumed in paternity suit


    FIGUERES, Spain — Salvador Dali's eccentric artistic and personal history took yet another bizarre turn Thursday with the exhumation of his embalmed remains in order to find genetic samples that could settle whether one of the founding figures of surrealism fathered a girl decades ago.

    Pilar Abel, poses for a photograph after a news conference in Madrid, where she claimed to be the daughter of eccentric artist Salvador Dali.  After two decades of court battles, a Madrid judge granted Abel a DNA test to find out whether her allegations are true, and the exhumation is scheduled to begin Thursday night. [Associated Press]
  2. Spring Hill couple arrested on drug charges after months-long investigation


    SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill couple was arrested Wednesday on several drug charges after a months-long investigation by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

    Hernando County Sheriff's Office detectives stand behind 24 pounds of marijuana seized by the agency during a drug bust this week. [Photo by Megan Reeves]
  3. New Pinellas Trail stretch draws raves at opening

    Human Interest

    EAST LAKE — Mike Siebel bikes the Pinellas Trail four days a week and loops up and down the Suncoast Trail at least a couple times every year. A 68-year-old cycling diehard, he was so eager for the opening of the 5-mile segment extending the Pinellas Trail to the Pasco border that he would often drive across …

    Cyclists wait for the official opening of the Pinellas Trail's newest segment. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  4. Authorities recover body of missing boater in Lake Thonotosassa


    THONOTOSASSA — Authorities on Thursday recovered the body of a 44-year-old Plantation man who went missing while boating on Lake Thonotosassa.

  5. Chester Bennington, Linkin Park singer, dies by suicide at 41: Report


    Chester Bennington, the flame-throated singer of enormosly popular metal band Linkin Park, has reportedly committed suicide at age 41.

    Chester Bennington and Linkin Park last performed in Tampa at Steinbrenner Field in 2014.