Police defend decision to issue Amber Alert for Markham girl, say father won't be charged
Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019 8:46AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, March 20, 2019 12:43PM EDT
York Regional Police are defending their decision to pursue an Amber Alert for a missing five-year-old girl who was ultimately found safe on Tuesday night.
Investigators initially said that the young girl had been abducted by her father from Armadale Public School in Markham at around 2 p.m.
“It started off as an investigation into a missing child that we believed had been abducted from that school in Markham. Information that our investigators had was that they did believe that that child was in danger,” Const. Andy Pattenden told CP24 on Wednesday morning.
The Amber Alert was cancelled at around 6 p.m. after the young girl was found with her father, who was briefly taken into custody but later released without charge.
“Ultimately that child was found safe very quickly, which is the best outcome we could possible hope for,” Pattenden said.
Speaking to CP24 on Tuesday night, the child’s father said the Amber Alert shouldn’t have been issued in the first place.
“My daughter was safe and sound the entire time. She loves being with her father and she knows she is safe with me so this Amber Alert was done falsely,” he said. “I’ve been picking her up every day since she has been in school.”
Pattenden said Amber Alerts are not put in place on a whim. He noted that they require several levels of investigation before they are issued.
“We did believe the child was in danger. From there an investigation team is reviewing that file. From there, it goes up to our real-time operations centre where someone at the rank of inspector or above reviews that file to ensure that there is a belief that the child is in danger,” he said.
”It goes to the OPP control and they review the file once again, and if their belief is consistent with ours, that is when that Amber Alert gets issued… Our efforts were really about finding that child as quickly as possible and as you saw yesterday, the system did work.”
Pattenden said Amber Alerts are issued in very few missing persons cases.
“In my time in the media relations office now, seven years, I can’t recall a time where we issued an Amber Alert or were part of that,” he added. “We get missing child calls every single day. There are a lot of investigations that go on for missing people, missing children that don’t involve an Amber Alert.”