Update: Ottawa police confirmed at 12:11 PM EST that Khalida Musah has been located and is safe. There are no other updates available at this time.
After the disappearance and unfortunate death of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar on Thursday night, the public has a lot of questions about amber alerts in Canada. The biggest of all comes this morning as a 7-year-old girl is currently missing in Ottawa but no amber alert has been issued for her.
Ottawa Police reported that 7-year-old Khalida Musah has gone missing. Her parents discovered she was gone this morning at 6 AM when they woke up, but they last saw her at 10 PM last night when she went to sleep. Khalida Musha is believed to be wearing blue pyjamas with green stars on them, a dark blue winter coat, and brown boots. They are especially concerned because the family recently moved to Ottawa and Khalida doesn't know the area well.
The police are now appealing to the public for help finding her, but they have not put out an amber alert. Instead, they have put a notice out on their social media, websites, and through news outlets. However, concerned members of the public want to know why this little girl doesn't get an amber alert when the importance of them was emphasized so heavily over the past two days.
No AMBER alert? 7 years old? Pajamas? :(— CrossFit Runner (@kizasauve) February 16, 2019
I never got an Amber alert. I pray she is found safe🙏🏻— 𝐻𝑒𝓇𝑀𝓊𝓈𝒾𝓃𝑔𝓈 💬 (@flutterpolitely) February 16, 2019
What was she doing out at 10pm? Guess the police got scared off by those amber alert babies and didnt issue one?— The Uncanny (@the_uncanny13) February 16, 2019
The answer for those people, however, is simple. Not all missing children cases immediately call for an amber alert. In fact, there are specific criteria that have to be met before an alert is issued.
Before police can issue an amber alert, they have to make sure the case meets all of these specific guidelines:
- They must believe that a child (under 18 years old) has been abducted
- They must believe that the child is in immediate danger
- There must be enough descriptive information about the child, suspect, or car so that an Amber Alert would actually help someone identify or locate the child
There aren't many details known about Khalida Musah's case, but police confirmed on Twitter that it doesn't meet these amber alert requirements, meaning it is likely not a kidnapping. Despite the lack of amber alert, Ottawa Police are still working hard to locate 7-year-old Khalida. If you see her you are asked to contact police or 911 immediately.
As for why they are called Amber Alerts in the first place, the name has two meanings. First, it is named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and murder in Texas in 1966. The local authorities created an emergency bulletin system to prevent other murders like hers and the system spread.
That's where the second meaning comes in. As the Amber Alert system spread across America the name Amber turned into an acronym meaning America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The system is now used in Canada as well.