The moment a parent realizes his or her child is missing, the first call they usually make is to the local police.
"It's a highly emotional scene and usually the first thing the family wants us to do is to issue an Amber Alert and we have to go down and explain to them that there's a certain protocol that we use whenever we ask for an Amber Alert to be issued," said Sergeant Tony Lassetter with the Abilene Police Department, Youth and Missing Person Division.
For police to issue an Amber Alert, they must be able to answer five questions:
-Is the child 17 years old or younger?
-Is there proof that there has been an abduction?
-Are there reasons to believe the child is in immediate danger of serious harm or death?
-There must be a confirmed investigation that verifies the abduction.
-There has to be some details like a description of the abductor or the vehicle they're driving.
"We don't want to haphazardly issue them because we don't want to overuse the system because if we sent out 3-4 Amber Alerts a day, people would get so used to seeing that they wouldn't even pay any attention to it," said Sgt. Lassetter.
Sgt. Lassetter says the main goal behind Amber Alerts are to get assistance from the public in finding a missing child. The last time Abilene Police sent out an amber alert was in August, 2002.
"We have issued the Amber alert on one occasion here in Abilene and that was on the 'Baby Nancy' case in Walmart and that was successful and matter of fact that was the first Amber Alert issued in the state of Texas," said Sgt. Lassetter.
If for some reason, a family is unable to meet all five requirements, web sites like the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children can help parents send out pictures of their child immediately, much like missing 13-year-old Hailey Dunn's family has done in the last several days.
"Some of the things you're seeing in Colorado City that they're doing, prayer vigils, people offering rewards, getting the community involved getting the news media involved," said Sgt. Lassetter.
According to Sgt. Lassetter once all 5 of the requirements are met, an amber alert can be issued within minutes.