Amber Rene Hagerman was a bright, blue-eyed, third grader from Arlington, Texas, who was an honor-roll student, a girl scout, and a whiz on roller skates. She was also a fun-loving, 9-year-old who enjoyed playing with her little brother Ricky, watching her favorite television show “I Love Lucy,” and eating lots of vanilla ice cream.
But one Saturday afternoon in 1996, Amber’s innocent life was taken away when a man grabbed Amber from her bicycle and drove off. Four days later she was found brutally murdered.
Amber’s tragic death had such a profound impact on her community and throughout northern Texas that it prompted regional law-enforcement agencies and broadcasters to develop an innovative emergency alert plan to help recover abducted children. They named it the AMBER Plan. Amber will always be remembered as the little girl from Texas who inspired her community to create a pioneering program to help rescue other abducted children.
The Amber Plan
Local broadcasters across the country are working in partnership with law-enforcement agencies in their communities to develop and implement local AMBER Plans. The goals are to help ensure that people in the area know as soon as possible that a local child has been abducted and to provide them with the information they need to help return the child to safety.
The plan calls for law-enforcement agencies to alert radio and television stations within minutes of a child abduction in the same way stations are alerted during tornadoes, hurricanes, or other civil emergencies. The goal of the plan is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for the child and suspect.
Statistics show that the first few hours of a child abduction are critical to the outcome of the case. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, 74 percent of the children who were kidnapped and later found murdered were killed within the first 3 hours after being taken. That statistic alone should prompt every community to implement the AMBER Plan before a tragedy strikes.
The AMBER Plan sends a strong message that crimes against children are intolerable and that by working together, law enforcement, broadcasters, and individuals have the power to apprehend predators and bring abducted children home.
Annual Miramichi Police Force Family Church Service
Miramichi Police Force officers, staff and families have joined together for a family church service. This event, which traditionally takes place in the Spring, is held at a different church each year.
This year’s service will be held on May 6th, 2012 at the Family Worship Center on King George Hwy., under the guidance of Pastor Theo Craig.
Not only do the officers attend in dress uniform, but they also take part in the service itself by completing reading and sharing a real life police story with the children. Chaplin Cecil Symes usually helps to present the sermon.
One year, a childs story was about the power of God and how God sees everything. A local young person went into one of the Miramichi video rental stores and planned on stealing some DVD movies. In this particular store, the movies are picked out, then the customer goes to the counter and requests a rental copy. All the actual movies are stored at the counter. When the store clerk was not looking, the young person reached behind the counter and stole two movies. He could not see the titles. He just grabbed the first two cases and ran out of the store with them hidden in his backpack. The police were called and he was caught a few streets away. The movies were in his backpack and the titles of the movies were “The Ten Commandments, Part One & Two”.
The service is followed with a fellowship where MPF officers and families do not only share time with each other but with the congregation.
These services are important to us. They are a time to reflect on the powers of God, as to how he is involved with police work everyday, and also as an opportunity to share in prayer.
We are always seeking new organizations to share this annual event with. Should there be an interest from any City based Church, their spokesperson may contact the MPF at 623-2124.
Kids ‘n Kops Summer Camp
The Kids “N” Kops program began in 2001 after MPF officers received a presentation from Big Brothers/Sisters staff members who were seeking MPF involvement with children from our community.
The need for being a big brother/sister, school mentor, or someone willing to host a week long camp were highlighted. After the presentation, Sgt. Bob Bruce volunteered to give the hosting of a week long camp a try and now, years later, 112 children have come through this program.
The Kids “N” Kops program provides a forum in which children and police officers are able to interact in a positive and meaningful way.
Kids “N” Kops is a joint initiative of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Miramichi Police Force. The children served are selected from unmatched “Littles” and are between 8-12 years of age.
Our program has been expanded to include two children of serving MPF members. The goal of this inclusion is to better inform our members’ children about their parents’ job role in a fun and educational manner.
The maximum number of participants is 15 children and the week long camp is held once a year, usually in the month of July.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has endorsed the program nationally. It has met their endorsement and procedure policy. Our own program has also been featured in a May 2005 edition of “Blue Line”, Canada’s National police magazine. In addition to this, our local media has annually published a full-page pictorial about our annual event.
THE GOALS OF THE PROGRAM ARE TO:
Provide contact with adult role models
Promote trust between law enforcement and children
Foster a realistic and positive prospective of police officers and other emergency service providers in the community
Provide opportunities to children on the Big Brother’s/Big Sisters waiting list
To Establish lasting alliances with the youth in the Miramichi community
The Miramichi Police Force, in partnership with Big Brothers/Big Sisters staff, has coordinated an exciting program for the children. The week-long program (35 hours) includes an overview of police operations, team building exercises, and interaction with police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, hospital staff, court, Department of Public Safety and correctional workers. Each child receives a special hat and T-shirt, which is worn throughout the program to promote a sense of unity within their group. Children complete the week with a graduation ceremony, which is open to the parents and invited guests.
To date, we have run this program for 10 consecutive years. The Miramichi Police Force has served 112 children in this capacity. To our knowledge, the only other New Brunswick Police Forces to run a similar program are Saint John & Fredericton. There are many kids in need of this positive interaction. We have expanded the program in our region by joining with the Department of Public Safety, Community and Corrections Division (New Brunswick Youth Center) who have developed a similar, week long program, CHAMP CAMP, which hosts Kids “N” Kops graduates who are still on wait lists.
As a crime prevention tool, this program unites many officers from multiple agencies with the youth, with various businesses, and with the media. During camp week, the children are exposed to many MPF officers, MPF staff, and officers from other agencies who volunteer their time to make this program/partnership a success. On average, the children are exposed to 38 different adult role models. These created partnerships are long lasting and rewarding.
What else can be done?
There are many children in our Province in need of having exposure to positive adult role models in their young lives. The Kids “N” Kops program offers children opportunities to learn how to make positive choices through interaction with police officers and other Public Safety officials. This program contains presentations on stealing, on the criminal justice process, and it reassures the children that they are important and that someone cares about them. The program may ultimately prevent a young person from engaging in crime. To address this need for interaction with positive adult role models, the Miramichi Police would like to see this program expanded throughout New Brunswick and we would like to present, on the merits of hosting this program, to other provincial or municipal agencies.
Sgt. Bruce is currently assigned to the patrol division as a shift supervisor. His past includes 26 year of police service, 10 years as a local Crime Stopper Coordinator, 9 years of hosting this current program, and he is also one of the founding members of the Miramichi Police Force, Zero Tolerance, program.
Sgt. Bob Bruce,Kids “N” Kops Coordinator
Miramichi Police Force
1820 Water Street
Miramichi, NB E1N 1B7
Youth Village Miramichi
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Boys & Girls Club
115 Maher Street
Miramichi, NB E1N 4B4