Police in Alberta say a time lag may be behind the decision not to issue an Amber Alert for Kienan Hebert, the three-year-old boy who disappeared from his home in southeastern B.C. near the provincial boundary.
Kienan Hebert vanished early Wednesday morning from his family’s suburban house in the town of Sparwood.
Police suspect the boy was taken by Randall Hopley, 46, a local man with a long criminal record, who was recently released from jail.
The boy’s parents told police about his disappearance at 7:30 a.m. MT. Police notified the media about five hours later but didn’t issue the Amber Alert until about 6 p.m. MT.
Alberta RCMP spokesman Sgt. Patrick Webb said the time between Hebert's disappearance and the beginning of the Amber Alert could have been too long to be relevant in Alberta.
“Ten hours in some circumstances may be too long," he said. "In other words, you have to consider how long or how far a person could travel in 10 hours. A person could literally travel across a province and be into a third province in a 10-hour span."
In a written release Friday, Alberta RCMP said that while an Amber Alert was not issued by that province, media outlets there treated Hebert’s disappearance as a high priority.
"The media here treated it just like an Amber Alert," Webb said. "So with the exception of some highway signs, there was a lot of information that flowed out from the Alberta media relatively immediately."
The B.C. Amber Alert was picked up and broadcast by CBC News in Alberta.
RCMP Amber Alert co-ordinator Corp. Peter Nobles said the alerts are only supposed to be issued when police think the public in a specific location might be able to help find the missing child.
"We don't want to over-alert or panic the public in any way,” said Nobles. "If an Amber Alert is issued, we want it to be issued in an area where there could be a high probability … that that person could be in their area instead of, 'Well, that's too far away to affect us.'"
Hopley is believed to be driving a brown 1987 Toyota Camry with the licence plate 098 RAL.