The New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA) announced that it will honor two TV executives – WABC-TV President and General Manager Rebecca Campbell, and WNBC-TV President and General Manager Tom O’Brien – and the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission’s Chief of Staff, Ira Goldstein for their role in broadcasting AMBER Alerts into 13,000 New York City taxis.
All will be honored during lunch on Tuesday, June 29 at the NYSBA’s 48th Executive Conference at The Sagamore Resort Hotel in Bolton Landing, N.Y.
“We want to thank Rebecca Campbell, Tom O’Brien, and Ira Goldstein for expanding the reach of AMBER Alerts to include 13,000 taxis,” said NYSBA President Joseph A. Reilly. “We’re pleased to be the first state in the nation to use this innovative way of bringing such important announcements to the public.”
AMBER is the official acronym for “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response.” The name was originally used to honor Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996. An AMBER Alert is activated once police determine a child has been abducted and is in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
The new alerts appear on TV screens in the back of taxi cabs, thanks to WABC-TV and WNBC-TV, and on LED displays next to drivers, thanks to the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. New York City became the first city in the world to use such a method for broadcasting AMBER alerts, which traditionally have been sent out over radio and television, as well as e-mail, text messages and electronic billboards. Using the New York City taxi fleet will now increase the chances an abducted child being saved.
“The singular goal of any new technology is to improve people’s lives, and it is eminently satisfying when we achieve this goal,” said New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission Chief of Staff Ira Goldstein. “The fact that we are now using taxi technology to help to protect children’s lives takes that sense of professional fulfillment to the nth degree.”
According to State Police Senior Investigator Gary Kelly, the state AMBER Alert coordinator, there have been 27 AMBER Alert activations involving 32 children since New York began its program in 2002. Every child has been safely returned.
“A third of the cases in New York have been in New York City,” Kelly noted. “So to have a resource like this in the taxis improves future efforts to find children who have been abducted.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Broadcasters are justly proud of their primary role in creating the AMBER Alert systems all across the country. It’s great to see other communication outlets joining in as well, such as billboard companies and, especially important in NYC where taxis are a way of life, backseat taxi video screens.