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Tennessee Missing Alerts & Criteria

As the state’s lead law enforcement agency, the TBI shares information among law enforcement agencies about missing individuals, offers investigative support, and issues alerts to raise the public awareness of the most serious of cases.

Alert Types

Each state has different criteria for alerts for missing individuals. The TBI formed Tennessee’s program based on national best practices and to provide consistency and flexibility to respond in the most appropriate way depending on the circumstances of each case.

The TBI reserves AMBER Alerts for the most serious of missing children cases, in which law enforcement believes that a child is in imminent danger. In AMBER Alerts, the TBI harnesses the strengths of partner agencies – including TEMA, the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, the National Weather Service, TDOT, and others – to amplify the message of vital information about the missing child and, if available, the suspect, vehicle, and direction of travel.

The TBI is the missing children’s clearinghouse for the state, and  is the only agency in the state that can issue an AMBER Alert.

In order to issue an AMBER Alert, the following criteria must be met:
1. The person is 17 years of age or younger, and;
2. The child is in imminent danger of bodily injury or death, and;
3. There is a description of the child, the abductor, or vehicle, and;
4. On a request from another state for activation, there is a direct and identified nexus to the state of Tennessee and that information is conveyed to TBI at the time of the request.

Issuing an AMBER Alert is not as simple as pressing a single button at TBI Headquarters. Instead, it’s a complex process, requiring various layers of notification across Tennessee. The TBI places priority on notifying the media, the National Weather Service, TDOT, and TBI’s social media audience, in an effort to quickly share information with the public at large. The TBI also works with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to activate the cellular telephone network, billboards, and other secondary alert notifications.

The TBI reserves this type of alert for missing children cases in which there is a concern for the child’s safety.

In issuing an Endangered Child Alert, the TBI notifies local media – in specific regions of the state – about the missing child, along with any additional available information. The TBI also uses social media to further share the relevant information.

The TBI reserves this type of alert for missing adults, ages 18-20, in which there is a concern for the individual's safety.

In issuing an Endangered Alert, the TBI notifies local media – in specific regions of the state – about the missing child, along with any additional available information. The TBI also uses social media to further share the relevant information.

At the request of a local law enforcement agency, the TBI will include information about missing children who may be missing as a result of parental abduction, runaway, or otherwise “at-risk” on its website.

Please note, however, the TBI's website list does not represent all missing children in Tennessee, just cases in which the Bureau receives a request from a parent, guardian, or local law enforcement, and those in which the case may benefit from additional publicity.