NEW HARTFORD - The first Amber Alert issued in upstate New York was for a case involving two missing siblings from Chadwicks. It was the New Hartford Police Department's case, headed up by Lieutenant Timothy O'Neill.
"The person we were dealing with, she was not allowed to have custody of her children because she had mental health issues, drug abuse issues," said O'Neill, of Timothy and Carmella Brown's mother, Christin Brown.
O'Neill says Brown and a female ally took the three-and five-year-old children from their Church Street home while their father was at work and a babysitter was caring for them.
"A lot of people don't understand - Amber Alert isn't like we can just go over, flip a switch on the wall and have an Amber alert," said O'Neill.
He first had to contact the New York State Police Special Victims Unit, which issues alerts. A child must be younger than 18, and in danger of serious bodily harm, or death. An Amber Alert was issued for the Brown children in August of 2009. When it was expanded throughout Virginia, a state trooper there found the children and their mother on Route 81, south of Richmond. Case closed, in 10 hours.
"There's nothing like that phone call... where they say they got them. We recovered them," said O'Neill.
Amber Alerts are rare. In 2016, out of 53 requests five alerts were activated. In 2017, there were 34 requests and six activated. So far in 2018, there have been 29 requests for Amber Alerts and two activated.
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