Peel Regional Police are defending its use of the emergency Amber Alert system for a missing 11-year-old girl, who was later found deceased in Brampton, following complaints the cellphone notifications either woke people up or disturbed them late Thursday evening.
“I can’t even begin to describe how disappointing and upsetting it is to read the comments, emails and calls to our communications bureau complaining about receiving an Amber Alert late at night,” Peel police media relations officer Const. Akhil Mooken said in a tweet.
“I appreciate that a lot of people were sleeping but the immediate need to locate the child outweighed the momentary inconvenience that some people encountered.”
Police issued the Amber Alert at 11:36 p.m. on Thursday, hours after a parental abduction investigation was launched into Riya Rajkumar’s disappearance.
The girl was out with her father for her birthday and was supposed to be dropped off with her mother at a predetermined time but never came home. Authorities said the victim’s mother contacted police just before 7 p.m. and told them he was going to harm himself and her daughter.
Police said the girl was later located deceased at a residence in Brampton. Her father, 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar, was arrested in Oro-Medonte, Ont., north of Toronto. The Amber Alert was subsequently called off at 12:21 a.m. Friday.
Officials said the alert system worked as intended despite police receiving “numerous calls,” complaining about the late hour of the Amber Alert.
“While I appreciate where people come from, and I know this morning, we were still getting calls that the Amber Alert was still going off at some point, we did automatically, as soon as we knew what was going on, we put in the form for the cancellation of the Amber Alert with OPP and that’s about all we can do,” Const. Danny Marttini told reporters at the scene where the girl’s body was found on Friday.
“I feel for everyone but given the circumstances, I think it did lead to the arrest of the individual and I think that’s what we have to focus on.”
VIDEO: ‘My heart aches’ Const. Mooken on 11-year-old found dead in Brampton home
Premier Doug Ford commented on the girl’s death during his visit to the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto on Friday. He said the Amber Alert was key to catching the suspect.
“My heart goes out to the family. It’s heartbreaking. But I think it was critical, that Amber Alert. That’s the reason we ended up catching this guy. What a sad story that is,” Ford said.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie also took issue with the complaints as she called for some to show some compassion.
“The quick apprehension of the suspect is case in point that the #AmberAlert works. As a society, we have the duty to come together and do everything we can to help locate a missing child. Have some compassion. Show some respect. What if this was your child?” Crombie said.
Some on social media complained about the Amber Alert notification getting sent as far as Winnipeg and Ottawa. Others said the notifications popped up multiple times and were still being received after the advisory was cancelled.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission mandated wireless service providers in Canada to implement wireless public alerting (WPA) capability on their LTE networks on April 6, 2018.
The Alert Ready website explains that the majority of wireless carriers in Canada are compatible with the alerts. Canadians cannot opt out.