NJ officials announce Amber Alert changes
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- New Jersey is making changes to rules that have discouraged Amber Alerts in domestic cases.
Even before the changes were announced, Attorney General Paula Dow answered the question everyone has been asking.
"We believe in this case it is unlikely that an amber alert could have saved baby Zara," Dow explained.
On February 16th, police say Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem attcked baby Zara's grandmother at their East Orange home, and snatched the little girl.
He then reportedly drove a short distance to the Driscoll Bridge and then did the unthinkable and threw her over the side of the bridge and into the icy water.
An amber alert was never issued in part because in the past, some family abductions were not alerted.
"The criteria established by the state were not clear enough regarding family abduction cases. Leading some to believe that amber alerts were not to be issued in family abduction cases," said Dow.
But that's not the case anymore.
Now, there is an abducted child alert reporting form that all local and state police are required to go by.
It asks questions like "does the child know abductor?" or "is there a custody issue?" and "is there a restraining order in place?".
All of those questions relate to domestic cases.
Since 2004, New Jersey has issued 13 amber alerts, 7 of which were domestic cases.
Baby Zara's grandmother, who was attacked the night she was taken, didn't want to talk on camera.
But, she did talk to Eyewitness News as she was getting in her car.
We asked her if she had heard about the changes to the amber alert system.
She said she had and they might help someone else's grand daughter, but said "it's too late for hers."
Just this past Saturday, a baby's body was found a few miles from the Driscoll Bridge.
The attorney general believes it is the body of baby Zara.
The baby's official cause of death is listed as drowning, leading investigators to believe she was alive when she went into the water.
Her father now sits in jail, charged with her murder.
The new policy also includes training for police and 911 operators, so they know how to ask the right questions when an abduction is reported.
new jersey, amber alert, local news, phil lipof
- Man claims football players beat him in Soho club
- AccuWeather: Clear and Cold
- Live: Eyewitness News on 7online streamed live!
- DISH Network signs on for WATCH ABC app
- Fire at Red Carpet Inn in Elmwood Park, New Jersey 41 min ago
- Suspect in Boston rice cooker incident sent to psych hospital 44 min ago
- 6 dead, 290 missing in South Korea ferry disaster
- Rare spring snow coats cars, slicks roads 45 min ago
- Photos: Spring snow around New York area
- Jenny McCarthy announces engagement on "The View"
- Drugs stashed in hiding places in Manhattan apartments 23 min ago
- Teen clerk beaten in Astoria deli robbery; $30,000 stolen 17 min ago
- Camera catches Bronx home invaders using victim's card
- College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT 19 min ago
- Rare spring snow coats cars, slicks roads
45 min ago
- Suspect in Boston rice cooker incident sent...
44 min ago
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos